Dear Dr. Chloe, I Have Been Feeling Really Tense Lately. How Do I Know When It’s Time to Seek Professional Help?

Dear Dr. Chloe,

I have been feeling really tense lately. There’s a lot going on in the world, and my wife has had some health issues. I’ve read that anxiety is on the rise and I wonder if that could be my situation. How do I know when it’s time to seek professional help?

Also, how can I know that I’m seeing a therapist who shares my values? Does it matter? I’ve heard some crazy stories about things that therapists have said, so no offense but it’s hard to trust therapists sometimes- being someone who is politically conservative, I sometimes worry the therapist will judge me. I once had a therapist suggest we discuss what she called my “privilege as a white cis gender male” when I was there to discuss anxiety about supporting my wife and family.  I don’t want to let that experience stop me from getting help, but I also wonder how much of this I can handle on my own.

Thank you for any suggestions.


Steve R.

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your excellent questions. Don’t worry, I absolutely do not take offense regarding your question about therapists– to be honest, I actually share your concern. Depending on the degree and licensure type, many therapists may have been through only a year or so of training– and even if they have more training, you are correct to wonder about the role of values in treatment.  The vast majority of therapists identify as liberal rather than conservative, and it’s not uncommon for people with conservative views to worry they will be evaluated in a negative light.

While I don’t think your therapist necessarily needs to share your political views, I can see where it would be important that you don’t feel judged or pathologized simply for basic characteristics about yourself. For example, in regards to what your therapist mentioned about you being a man: the American Psychological Association’s guidelines on traditional masculinity were actually quite disturbing to me– they seemed to put qualities like stoicism or competitiveness in a negative light, so I can see where traditional men (or the women who love and appreciate them) would feel leery of opening up to a therapist with that perspective.

Ideally, you can find recommendations from friends and family for therapists that have been found to be helpful. The advent of video therapy has widened the pool of therapists available to people now that we can look beyond our immediate drivable distance, so I would encourage you to be open to that as well.  Regardless, it might be necessary to commit to seeing at least a few therapists for an initial exploratory session before jumping deep into therapy with any particular person. At these initial sessions, you could share your experience with the prior therapist’s comment and gauge the current therapist’s reaction as a guide to whether they might have a similar approach. Also ask them to provide a general idea of how they would work with someone that has the particular symptoms and challenges you have, and see if they provide a clear, reasonable explanation.  If they seem dismissive or evasive, even when you attempt to clarify, it’s likely time to move on.

Regarding your question about knowing when it is time to seek help and your observation that anxiety is on the rise, I would definitely encourage you to be open to a professional if self-help doesn’t seem to be working. That said, be assured that there is a healthy function to anxiety, which is to stimulate preparation behaviors. In other words, having anxiety doesn’t always mean something is wrong. For example, your anxiety could be stimulating you to get extra support for your wife’s health issues if they are becoming overwhelming, or to seek a second opinion if her current doctor isn’t helping her make progress.  Also make sure that you have healthy outlets and supports in your life such as a fitness routine, a house of worship, quality sleep, and friendship.  When you’re carrying a lot of responsibility for others as it sounds like you are, it’s essential to ensure that you’re taking good care of yourself as well.

I hope this helps, Steve. Wishing you and your wife all the best.


Dr. Chloe

Dr. Chloe Carmichael is a clinical psychologist and USA Today bestselling author of “Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety” and “Dr. Chloe’s Ten Commandments of Dating.”  Send any questions where you’d like a psychologist’s perspective to  Responses are not guaranteed, and do not constitute medical advice.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and the USA Today bestselling author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety and Dr. Chloe’s 10 Commandments of Dating. She lives in the Free State of Florida with her husband and son. Her website is
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