I recently had a first session with a client who said, about halfway into the hour “Wow. I like you. I’m surprised.” I laughed, but I knew what the client meant. As a psychotherapist in private practice, I encounter a lot of people who waited far too long to come in for counseling because they didn’t understand what it was or how it could help them. When they do finally come in, I hear all the reasons why they haven’t come in sooner. There’s a lot of bad information out there. These ten things will clear up confusion and help you understand when counseling would be a good idea for you, or for a friend, colleague or family member.
1. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapy is for helping you learn to handle your feelings and thoughts in a more effective way.
2. It’s not about blaming your parents or other people. While understanding events in your life that may trigger feelings is helpful, a good therapist will not encourage you to blame anyone, even yourself. The point is to make changes in how you think and feel.
3. It really can vastly improve your life, and make you more successful and happier.
4. You can learn skills you didn’t know you needed, that will get you what you want.
5. It’s not scary, it’s enlightening. You won’t be harmed or belittled—instead, you’ll be delighted at what you find out.
6. It doesn’t cost a lot. The earlier you go in, the quicker you can get the problem solved, and the less it will cost.
7. No topic is off limits. Whatever you haven’t been able to talk about, the therapist will create a safe place for you to hear and be heard.
8. Communication is not only something you need to learn to do well with others, it is also important to see how you’re relating to yourself. Therapy will help you learn the skills you need to improve both external and internal communication.
9. Even if you are on medication, you can benefit from counseling. Research shows overwhelmingly that medication alone won’t fix anxiety or depression. Learning to express your feelings and become comfortable with yourself, as well as changing your self-talk, is what makes the difference.
10 It’s about being happy, sunshine. Therapy can help you understand your underlying motive and desires and teach you how to be your best, most fulfilled, and happiest self.
If you know someone you want to recommend counseling to, the best way to do it without hurting their feelings or upsetting them is to tell about your own experience and how it helped you. “Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely” in the “Happiness Tips” section of this website will show you or someone you care about when and how to find a good therapist.