Making the decision to enter into therapy is typically not an easy one to make. There are many things to consider when making such a decision: What therapist will be the right fit? How much does it cost? How will I fit appointments into my schedule? What will my friends and family think of me going to therapy? What will therapy be like? Can a therapist even help me?
These are all valid and reasonable questions to be asking yourself at this time, and I would encourage you to do so. My hope in this section is to demystify the therapeutic experience as much as I can in a few short paragraphs, and to relieve any possible hesitation or anxiousness you may feel about entering into therapy.
What therapist will be the right fit?
This is not an easy question to answer as the only person who will truly know the answer is you. An important attribute you will want to look for in a therapist is someone you feel comfortable with and trust. Trust is key in the therapeutic process as you will likely be discussing thoughts, feelings and experiences that you may have never spoken of before. Therapy is most effective when you can reach a vulnerable place in the office. Keep this in mind when walking into your first appointment; how do you feel in the office? Additionally, the right therapist is someone who will challenge you when appropriate. Sometimes therapy can help you feel better for a short time after your appointment, but positive change is not talking hold when out of the office. At this point you may want to assess if this is what you hope to get out of a therapist.
How much do sessions cost?
The cost for my services is $150 per 50 minute session. I truly believe in the effectiveness of therapy because I have witnessed it firsthand in the lives of my clients. If you need a nudge to help justify the expense of therapy, consider the potential costs of not changing a current course in life (i.e. missed days at work, job loss, relationship loss, divorce expenses, legal expenses [for self or child], medical bills [mental health and physical health are often interrelated], etc.)
How will I fit appointments into my schedule?
This is yet another valid question to ask when considering therapy. With work, family obligations and the many responsibilities of daily life, it may seem difficult to find an hour or so to fit in a weekly session. I schedule appointments throughout the day and into the evening to help clients do just this. Clients can take an extended lunch break once a week, or simply explain that they have an “appointment” they have to make. Although I seek consistency with all clients to best respect everyone’s time, I try my best to be flexible as I understand the demands of life can make it difficult to schedule appointments.
What will my friends and family think of me going to therapy?
This is a delicate question to approach, and I do not take it lightly. Views of the mental health field vary from family to family, as well as from culture to culture. Generally speaking, public opinion of psychotherapy has improved over the years, however some may feel there is still a stigma attached to the name of psychology. This is why it is completely understandable that you may feel apprehensive about announcing that your are going to see a therapist. To this I would say that you have nothing to be ashamed of in seeking help to improve yourself and/or your situation. Likewise, there is nothing to be ashamed of in keeping the fact that you are going to therapy to yourself until you perhaps feel more comfortable disclosing such information in the future.
What will therapy be like?
The relationship between client and therapist differs from a typical relationship in that a therapist can offer a client objective, honest feedback in a supportive, professional manner. Often times we mask the fullness of our true selves to the world, either consciously or unconsciously, out of fear of how others may react to us. The first goal of therapy is to create a safe place in which this fear can be significantly reduced, and thus bring the true self into examination. This “examination” includes exploring past and current relationships, as well as what is taking place in the therapeutic relationship from week to week. Once this process is engaged, therapist and client can then explore which aspects of the self they would like to change, and which aspects they would like to become more comfortable with, and even proud of. Much of our problematic behaviors, thoughts and feelings can be attributed to the adaptive ways in which we attempt to maintain a balance between this “mask” and our true selves. Since we have all learned such behaviors over a lifetime of experiences, it can take some time to introduce new, healthier ways of being in the world. However, given the supportive nature of therapy, such a relationship is the perfect environment to begin “practicing” new behaviors. Therapy typically comes to an end once the client and therapist feel these new behaviors have taken hold, and improvements in daily life can be observed. This is the therapeutic process, at least my therapeutic process, in a nutshell.
Can a therapist even help me?
Yes!…and maybe no. As previously mentioned, I am a believer in the therapeutic process. I would not have dedicated the time and energy to becoming a therapist if I did not. Therapy offers such an unique environment, ripe with opportunity to achieve levels of growth not found in everyday life. However, as much as I would like to, I cannot guarantee that therapy will help you. While commonalities are found across humanity, every life has it’s differences and thus therapy may not always be the answer. I do believe that help is available to everyone. It may just not come in the way of therapy, but perhaps a friend, or a stranger, or something else entirely.