Why try therapy? That’s a great question. Let me tell you a story, and then I’ll tackle some common objections to trying therapy.
I got a free trial of Sirius radio a few years ago when I bought my car. I was changing channels and stumbled upon Jonah Hill talking to Howard Stern about how therapy is the best luxury you can give yourself. Excitement pumped through me as I was eager to hear a celebrity, especially a male, speak so openly about his experiences and the benefits of therapy.
“Why doesn’t everyone seek therapy?—Everyone could use it!” I said to myself. Although I was a therapist, I myself was ambivalent about going to counseling. Many rationalizations popped in my head – I have support so I don’t need therapy, would colleagues/friends/family look down upon me or question my competence? I’m stressed but managing okay, I’m too busy, I feel weak, it’s expensive… If I was thinking this way, I thought, then I must not be alone.
Now that I’ve been in both chairs—the therapist’s and the client’s, here is what I learned passes through the minds of many:
Why try therapy?
“I must be broken, weak, and/or crazy if I need therapy” No, no, no! Sometimes people are motivated to seek counseling because there is a problem. Other times, people want to get to know themselves better, to ponder the meaning of life, and to grow!
“I’ve tried therapy before and it wasn’t helpful.” Well, of course, you’re skeptical about trying again! I’m an advocate of “doctor shopping.” Therapy is so much about the relationship. If you don’t feel like you and your therapist “click,” it’s disappointing. It’s worth trying another therapist. Interviewing a few therapists before making a decision is an acceptable practice. Because therapy can be a time, financial, and effort commitment, you need to feel good about your choice! If you’re unhappy with the relationship, the progress made, or the structure of therapy, it is worth sharing that with your therapist. Then you can collaboratively work through it.
“I’m not sure if I want to commit to therapy.” Fair enough! We’re all at different places in our change processes. If you’re ambivalent, you can bring that to the table. If you’re not sure if therapy, in general, is a good fit for you, we can have a “trial run” before you decide if it’s something you want to continue. It’s worth noting, too, that the ambivalence could be part of what you may be struggling with.
Therapy is an investment! It’s an investment in yourself, in your well-being, and in your relationships. When we make an investment (of time, energy, money), we want it to grow and bring a greater return to our lives. Going to therapy takes energy and commitment. With hard work and a strong relationship with your therapist, there is hope that better coping, decreased symptoms, and a stronger sense of self will emerge.
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