Thinking about therapy?

How do you decide if you want to work with a psychotherapist? As most people realize, psychotherapy represents an investment in yourself. It takes some money and some time and some discomfort to understand yourself and make your life the way you want it to be. In some respects, it is a matter of putting your own inner well-being at the top of your priority list. For some people, that is part of the problem: Every other obligation and interest comes first because self development is less urgent and less visible as a demand. They do not value themselves as much as they value other things.

People seek psychotherapy because their relationships are not working the way they would like them too. Or they feel limited in their work life and are not sure how they are creating obstacles for themselves. Or they have feelings that are not what they want to feel or that are inappropriate or out of proportion to what happens. We cannot see what we cannot see in our patterns of understanding our experience, and it takes an outside perspective to give us a different view.

Most people who come to see a therapist have tried many other ways of improving their lives. There is some sense that it is more noble to do it yourself. They try self help books, programs, and techniques to get at what is preventing them from having the life they want. There are many wonderful resources for developing ourselves, and each offers some nugget of insight or trick of understanding. That motivation to keep trying to make things better is, in itself, part of a deeply healthy self.

At some point,  a person decides it is worth investigating whether working with another person will unblock some of the avenues. It is a difficult choice, and requires some courage. Taking a chance on a relationship with a new person always creates a little bit of worry. We cannot know until we get to know that person whether he or she is truly trustworthy. And, in the case of psychotherapy it is difficult to evaluate the process from inside of it. Still, there is progress you can make inside of relationships that cannot be made any other way. That is why we continue to try to make relationships with new people and why we continue to work on the relationships we have.

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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3 Responses to Thinking about therapy?

  1. jss says:

    I hope you don’t mind my saying but therapists do a lousy job of promoting their industry. People simply do not know all of the benefits of time spent with a good therapist. I could kick myself for not having done this twenty-five years ago. It all could have been so different. Ah well, hindsight and all.

    Therapy done courageously (by both parties I might add) can be a wonderful experience.

    • norasblog says:

      Thank you for your very nice comment. It is true. As therapists we are trained to do our work but not trained to market our work. It is difficult to describe how therapy works and the benefits that people can experience. Mostly people find us when they run out of other options.

  2. Jim says:

    Good article Nora. I find it amazing, still, that people can struggle for so long with emotional or behavioral problems before they even consider consultation with a mental health professional. And even when they do consider it, they often need a push from a friend who has her/himself already had therapy. They’re waiting for a sign: ” It’s OK, is safe to go”. As therapists, we could do a whole lot better at educating the public ourselves and encouraging those who’ve been helped to spread the word.

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