is therapy right for you?
We recognize that for many people, the decision to enter into therapy or even to make that initial call, is not made lightly. It’s common to question the “need” for therapy, and you may question this yourself, although by doing so, it is important to note that you are already minimizing and/or placing judgment on your experience and feelings. Rather than asking yourself, “Do I need therapy?”, it might be more helpful to ask yourself what the minimum benefit of therapy might be, e.g. “If nothing else, therapy could help me…”. It also could be useful to think about what is standing in the way of you making that initial call- Is it fear or nervousness? Is it worry about feeling judged? Is it one of the many common myths about therapy? If you find yourself wondering if therapy is right for you, consider the following:
□ Do you find it difficult to cope with stress, loss, or emotional pain?
□ Have you felt unhappy, easily irritated, anxious, lethargic, moody or angry for a period of time?
□ Do you feel badly about yourself or current or past experiences?
□ Do you struggle with resolving difficulties in your relationships with family, friends, others?
□ Do you feel emotionally distressed?
□ Have you had difficulty finding balance in your life?
□ Do you believe, or question whether, you have an addiction?
□ Would you like to recognize, understand, or change patterns of thinking or behavior?
□ Do you desire a more objective approach to situations rather than the input of family and friends?
□ Do you find yourself needing additional support?
□ Do you have feelings of isolation or loneliness?
□ Do you desire more satisfying relationships or more broadly, a more satisfying life?
While the above list is in no way all inclusive of the reasons people begin therapy, answering “yes” to any of these questions may be an indication that you could benefit from therapy. It is important to note that the “fit” and therapeutic relationship between an individual and therapist is a significant determinant of successful therapy. Therefore, it’s worth the time and effort from the onset to obtain recommendations, speak by phone and/or schedule in-person consultations in order to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable.
What happens in therapy?
During the initial session(s), your therapist will focus on getting to know you, establishing rapport, understanding what brought you to therapy at this time, and what it is that you want from therapy. It’s helpful to think about these things beforehand so as to best describe them when meeting your therapist for the first time. Your therapist should also be open to answering your questions about his/her background and training or about therapy in general. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions; you have a right to ask and a good therapist will be glad to answer them. The more you understand, the more comfortable you’ll feel. At the end of your first session, don’t be surprised if you feel a mixture of feelings such as relief, anxiety, hopefulness, and fear, among other things. These are common reactions to the work of therapy, though many people do experience the benefit of more satisfied lives as a result of this work.
Therapy involves regularly scheduled sessions, as agreed upon between you and your therapist. Usually sessions take place weekly initially and may decrease in frequency over time depending on your therapeutic goals. Based on these goals, your therapist may work with you to increase awareness, self observe, change behavior and cognition, and develop insight and empathy. Depending on the style and theoretical training of your therapist, therapy may involve straight “talk therapy” or may also include experiential techniques, writing, reading, self-help assignments or homework. Throughout the course of therapy, you and your therapist will review your goals and progress in order for you to determine an appropriate time to end.
Note: Although there may be technical differences, the terms ”therapy” and “counseling” are often used synonymously by many people; in this article, therapy is the term of choice.