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What symptoms are treated with psychotherapy?

Symptoms that psychotherapists or mental health counselors might treat

There are many symptoms, experiences, and behaviors that lead people to therapy. Life, even when it’s at its best, can be tough. Talking with a mental health counselor during challenging times is perfectly reasonable. While the problems listed in this article aren’t exhaustive, they illustrate how much we all have to deal with and how normal it is to seek help. In fact, notice that I purposely don’t go into detail regarding severe and persistent mental illnesses that many times require the intervention of a psychiatrist. The reason for this decision is to hopefully illuminate the fact that even people who are functioning in everyday society struggle. This type of mundane struggle with life can be helped with counseling and psychotherapy when there’s a clinically significant impact.

Many suffering from mental illness
Psychotherapy symptoms are many


To expand on common struggles, many people, if not most, are addicted to something. Whether legal or illegal drugs, sex, gambling, food, smartphones, or something else, anything you do more often than you’d like is suitable to bring up with a counselor. It’s a misconception that someone has to be strung-out in an alley before they should see someone for help. If you have a behavior that you want to change, a therapist can help.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are very common symptoms that counselors help with. There’s a wide range of severity of most symptoms. Whether you feel on edge or are having full-blown panic attacks, this anxiety can be treated with therapy. Similarly, whether one feels down more often that they’d like or whether they struggle to even get out of bed, depression is commonly treated with psychotherapy.

Autism and Child Development

Autism, which now includes what was once called Asperger’s syndrome, can be helped with therapy, particularly certain types of neurofeedback therapy. However, those with autism may also struggle with relationships, and a therapist can help them relate better to others.

Child development and parenting concerns are many times first explored with a pediatrician. However, pediatricians may refer parents to a counselor to work through stress, anxiety, depression, and other problems that occur during childhood. If a child seems to be overwhelmed by particular feelings, a child psychologist or psychotherapist can help.

Eating Disorders

Struggling to maintain a healthy weight or suffering from eating disorders can be eased with therapy. Many times, a deficit of emotional regulation or the side effects of trauma relate to problems in this area. Many therapists specialize in dealing with eating disorders of all types.


Trauma comes in many forms, such as being involved in a car crash or a child witnessing domestic violence. Sometimes symptoms of trauma aren’t easily noticed by the individual. Signs of trauma include feeling numb, being very alert, feelings of helplessness, and more. Therapists frequently encounter clients who've experienced trauma.


At some point in everyone’s life, they will experience loss. Dealing with grief can be terrible, even with a strong support group. Counselors can help you deal with grief and loss to help you get through any of life’s inevitable tragedies.

Existential Issues

Happiness and having purpose and meaning are important in life. Counselors can help someone discover what they want to get out of life, including exploring identity. This usually involves examining one’s values and finding out if the client is living accordingly. It can also include an exploration of spirituality, which for many is intertwined with happiness and meaning. A therapist who says they deal with existential issues is referring to all of these topics.

Sleep and Stress

Quality sleep, health, work-life balance, and stress are intertwined. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, life can be more stressful and affect health. Having enough time throughout the week to decompress from work and responsibility is important. Therapists can examine problem areas and help find solutions so that physical and mental health are working in sync.


Personality problems can make life very challenging. Those who avoid others, treat others poorly, or have any of the many personality problems that can be treated with psychotherapy will hopefully find life much more enjoyable once they have insight into how they interact with others and why others may react the way they do. Personality problems can take some time to address in therapy since so much of our personalities are wrapped up in our identities. Even though this type of therapy can move slowly at times, without knowing how others see us and how we create our own problems, we will always struggle unnecessarily in some areas.


Relationships are essential to healthy emotions. We are social creatures, and we need good relationships to live life fully. Working with a counselor is a relational experience. Much about how we relate to others can be learned by entering counseling. While some issues are more difficult to treat with counseling, helping with relational problems is an area where psychotherapy shines.

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