Seeking therapy is an individual choice and a courageous one at that! There are many reasons why someone would choose to begin therapy. Sometimes it is to focus on a long-standing issue, such as anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in life that are causing difficulties in daily functioning. Many people think therapy is “advice giving” when really it is a form of collaborative exploration where you learn techniques and tools to become your own therapist.
For many years, there have been some pretty negative messages sent about the people who see a therapist or a “shrink.” Therapy does not necessarily mean anything is “wrong” with you, it just means maybe you could use some extra support at some point in your life. Strangely enough, one of the first positive messages I saw about therapy was on an episode of Sex and the City after Carrie had a difficult break up with Mr. Big. This exchange between some of her friends really highlighted to me the function that therapy could have in someone’s life:
Carrie: Why should I pay to talk to someone when we can talk to you guys and go get a drink or whatever. I don’t need professional help I have you guys
Miranda: Yeah for about another 10 minutes and then we’re cutting you off, cold turkey
Samantha: Look, we’re just as fucked up as you are, it’s like the blind leading the blind
Miranda: Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who’s objective
*later* Stanford: How can you not have a shrink? Even the shrinks have shrinks!
Therapy is often someone’s “last ditch effort” when all other ways of feeling better have been exhausted. Other times, it’s when something bad has happened like a legal case, an ended relationship, or even a hospitalization that brings someone into the office. There is no right or wrong way to seek out therapy. The thing that is critical is finding someone who is a good match for you. Just like you are an individual so is your therapist. Your provider should make you feel comfortable, like it is ok to be yourself, and to know that they are there for you to provide the best treatment possible. Therapy is an incredibly vulnerable experience and feeling safe, secure, and supportive is pretty vital.
Therapists come in many different forms and one of the easiest ways to examine differences is in something called theoretical orientation. Every provider has an approach they typically use when working with you, their “theory of change” that provides a foundation of how they approach you. For example, my theoretical orientation is Cognitive-Behavioral, which means I believe behaviors and beliefs are directly related to presenting concerns and change comes from altering how we have been approaching things. Some of the tools and skills I use to help individuals are considered “behavioral interventions,” which essentially are concrete, tangible tools you can use in and outside of therapy.
It is my belief that therapy should not last forever, your life is so much more than that. Therapy is only a piece of your journey, not the entire quest. Beginning therapy can be incredibly scary and that’s perfectly normal and expected. Not everyone who comes to therapy really wants to be there and that’s ok too. Your therapist is there to meet you were you are and to provide you with the best care. If you do not feel like you are a good fit, let them know; your life is too important to stick with someone who isn’t a good match. For more information about therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, or any general inquires, feel free to contact me by phone at 702-587-1573 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.