Many people avoid therapy because they have some preconceived notions about what therapy is. Some of the ones I hear the most are
1. Therapists don’t talk they just nod their heads and say UM HMM. Now this I will admit is sometimes true. I have had clients see me say that their prior therapists never said anything. However, it isn’t always true. I interact a lot with people I work with. If it is important to you to have an interactive therapist then when you are looking for a therapist ask what they are like in the room.
2. I can just talk to my friends-why would I need to talk to a therapist? Friends are great. You want to talk to friends about what is going on in your life. Friends also will give you advice you may not want, try and solve your problems for you, and/or have some personal bias about the situation you are describing. Now those things can be positive. But there is something freeing about talking to someone who has no agenda, isn’t trying to fix you, and who doesn’t express any judgement about how you handle something.
3. Only crazy people see therapists. It is sad that there is such a stigma about seeking therapy. The majority of people in therapy are everyday people who are trying to learn to negotiate some aspect of their life better.
4. You have to go to therapy forever. This is generally up to the person seeking therapy. There are many times a person just needs some short term work to help them negotiate a difficult transition. Other times people are seeking problems to resolve long standing issues. A good therapist will work with you until you have met the goals that brought you to therapy and no longer.
5. You will just talk about your mother. Now again I will say that if there are longstanding issues what happened in your childhood is often very relevant. That is not to say you will spend your sessions talking about your mother. You will look at the patterns in your life and how they started as a way to create a different way of doing things.
6. What is in the past is past and doesn’t effect me now. This is one of the most common things I hear. I am over this incident. I don’t even think about it anymore. Now in some cases that may be the truth but often it just means you buried the feelings about whatever happened and spending some time dealing with those feelings can free up much emotional energy. Check out an earlier post I wrote about this.
7. I can’t afford it. Most insurance policies have some coverage for therapy since the Mental Health Parity Law was passed. Many therapists will also negotiate a sliding scale based on income. However, the real question here should be what is it worth for me to feel better? Therapy is an investment in your future.