The decision to go to therapy can be an overwhelming and anxiety-inducing process. Before trying something new, there are many unanswered questions and concerns that you may have before dipping your toes in the water. In my experience, I have found that these concerns often prevent or postpone people from seeking the help they need. In this series of three blog posts, I will answer some common questions about therapy and provide some tips and suggestions on how to decide when to seek therapy, how to find a therapist, and explain what to expect during your first session.
How do you know if you should go to therapy? This is a question you may be asking yourself and is a question I have been frequently asked throughout my career. I often hear people say that their problems are “not that big of a deal.” They claim, “Well, other people have it worse than me.” Statements like these minimize your individual struggles, and imply that you need to “qualify” for therapy in some way. In reality, therapy can be beneficial for anyone. There are terms and diagnoses that we tend to associate with therapy, like depression and anxiety, but therapy does not just exist to treat a diagnosis. Therapy exists to help humans navigate through periods of change, personal loss, relationship issues, feeling a lack of direction in life, and countless other external or internal struggles. It is also important to note that therapy does not need to be a life-long commitment. Many people come to therapy to deal with a current, pressing issue, such as loss of a loved one or job, and end their sessions when they feel they have either resolved their problem or built up enough skills to manage it. Others prefer to stick with therapy long term; there is no right or wrong way. Instead of trying to take an inventory of your symptoms or comparing yourself to others, ask yourself more digestible questions: “Am I satisfied with my life?” “Is there anything I am feeling that is impacting my life in a negative way, and preventing me from reaching my goals?” Perhaps you cannot fully identify what you are feeling, but you have a sense that something is off. Once you begin therapy, your therapist will help explore and identify the specific feelings or life circumstances you are struggling with. If you have been considering therapy lately, it may be worth it to give it a try. In the next segment of this 3-part blog series, I will be discussing “How to find a therapist.” Stay tuned for my next post.