“I can handle it on my own.” “A lot of people have it worse than me.” “I don’t need any help.” If you or someone you know has said or thought these phrases, you are not alone. Despite society’s increased understanding of mental health and greater destigmatization of therapy, many people hold off on talking to a counselor.
Even people who are familiar with mental health may hesitate to schedule a session. Cost, time, and stepping into the unknown can be overwhelming. Fear of being vulnerable and addressing painful feelings can be daunting. If you have wondered if therapy would be good for you, here are some questions and answers that may lessen your anxiety.
Only people who have serious mental illness need to go to therapy. People go to therapy for a variety of reasons: loneliness, relationship problems, stress management, addiction, or grief. A life change, a traumatic experience, or managing depression or anxiety are other common reasons. Whether you can relate to one or multiple of these experiences, you may benefit greatly from talking to a trained clinician to help you navigate life’s struggles. Everyone needs someone to vent to and therapists are expert listeners.
I can handle it on my own. It can be hard to ask for help. This means admitting you are struggling or showing signs of “weakness”. Therapists would argue that seeking help is brave. It takes admirable effort to put aside your pride or fight the belief that you are a burden to others and ask someone for help. Some people find relief in talking with close friends or family. This may be enough for some people. Keep in mind, therapists are unique helpers because they offer an outside, trained perspective, and will be bold enough to tell you things others may not.
I’m not ready to talk about it. People will go out of their way to avoid uncomfortable or distressing feelings. Substance use, mind numbing screen time, or an overflowing schedule may all be coping mechanisms developed to survive. Healthy coping skills are crucial, but many people carry the load of past trauma that likes to pop up and disrupt daily life. Working through trauma can be incredibly painful. It takes courage to open that door in your mind that leads to hurt, shame, betrayal, or abandonment. However, working with a therapist can help you unpack that load, manage the symptoms, and find greater peace.
I’m not as bad as So and So. When a child gets a fever, their caregiver doesn’t say, “You have a fever, but your sister’s fever is higher. She needs medical attention, but you will be fine.” A fever is a fever. Higher temperatures may require a visit to the emergency room to get an IV or treat an underlying condition. A lower temperature fever still needs to be treated. The caregiver would likely administer medicine to help the child feel more comfortable. They might give the child a blanket because they are cold or encourage them to drink more liquids. Just because someone has it worse, doesn’t mean your pain is any less real or deserving of help.
It’s too expensive. Therapy services can be pricey. Some employers offer to cover therapy services for their employees. Some insurance companies will be able to tell you what agencies are covered in their network. You might be surprised to find out how many of your friends and family have been to therapy and will have a recommendation. Day One’s Charitable Mental Health Program offers free and reduced cost therapy session to those with a qualifying income regardless of having insurance or not. To apply for therapy sessions, CLICK HERE.
I tried therapy once and it did not go well. Not feeling a connection? Don’t feel heard or understood? The therapeutic relationship is crucial to the therapeutic process. Voice your concerns with your therapist. Tell them if you want to focus on something different. You have a choice in your treatment. If you do not click with one therapist, try a different one. You deserve to feel cared about and comfortable.
What would I even talk about? Therapy generally starts with assessment. This can help diagnose a mental illness or disorder which could provide a sense of validation and relief. Assessments also help the therapist understand what your needs and strengths are and what you are hoping to get out of therapy. They will help you create a treatment plan with specific objectives or goals. Remember, you are a central part of this process in deciding what your treatment looks like. The therapist will talk with you about how many sessions you will have and will let you know the rules about privacy and confidentiality. Then, the therapist will likely begin to ask questions, get to know you, and listen to your concerns. The floor is open to whatever is on your mind. He or she may even hear the things you do not say. The therapist will offer insight, advice, and most importantly a listening ear.
If you have thought about possibly seeing a therapist but feel overwhelmed by the thought, take comfort in knowing even therapists have battled these thoughts. Many therapists are huge advocates for education about mental health and emotional wellness because they have found therapy to be beneficial to themselves. No one is exempt from challenges in this life. To need help is to be human.