Start Therapy?! I’d Rather…(Insert Anything. Anything Else at All.)
Are you thinking it's past time to start therapy but can't quite take that first step? Well, you're not alone! Like many things in life, the first step is the hardest.
And why is it so hard for you (and everyone else) to begin? These 6 myths may explain what's really holding you back.
Myth #1: Therapy takes a lot of time!
It’s true. Therapy takes time. But it's a common myth that it takes a lot of time. Most clients are sitting on my couch for years, or even months in some cases.
First off, you may be surprised at how quickly short-term therapy can work for certain issues. But keep in mind that your issues didn’t develop overnight and solving them won’t happen overnight either.
Also, keep in mind that should you choose me as your therapist, I’m not a fan of having my clients stay in therapy forever! My ultimate goal is to get you to the point where you no longer need therapy and feel confident you (and your partner for couples) can handle future problems on your own.
It’s true, therapy can take time to really work. Hopefully though, you don’t need convincing that it’s worth the time to prioritize your mental health and the health of your relationships.
My clients know how active I am and how focused I am on the end goal. I consider it a success if you no longer need me:)
Myth #2: Therapy costs a lot of money!
It’s also true that therapy costs money. But most things in life have a cost. And money is just time in a different form.
Again, hopefully you don’t need convincing that the health of you and your relationships are worth it.
That said, therapy does NOT need to be an expensive endeavor. I encourage clients to plan for at least 8 sessions depending on the nature of their issue. I also encourage clients to come in less often than once per week if cost is a concern.
Also, keep in mind that psychotherapy is a healthcare cost which means that your health insurance, FSA, or HSA can help you cover the costs. Definitely contact me for more details on these options!
Myth #3: I should be able to fix my issues on my own
If you’re struggling with this idea, then we’ve already identified one of your strengths! You’re self-sufficient and place high value on being able to solve your own problems.
We can use this for your own good, but you may still need to come in. And that’s ok.
Whatever you do, don't go talk to food about your problems. Or alcohol. Or your well-meaning aunt who serves as the "grapevine" of your family.
Coming to a professional is proactive and responsible, not a sign of weakness or something lacking within you. So stop “should-ing” on yourself and seek help already:)
Myth #4: Therapy is scary
Acknowledging our inner-most thoughts and feelings with ourselves is scary enough. Let alone doing this out loud, with a stranger. Of course this is scary!
And in many families and cultures, "airing your dirty laundry" in this way is something you just don’t do.
Some of us think about therapy and imagine walking in – perfectly composed and feeling just fine – only to have our heads cracked open like a coconut or shrunken down to the size of a pea.
Some of us even imagine weeping uncontrollably, feeling emotions we got really good at stuffing deep down, and recalling the most painful moments of our lives. All with no guarantee that the future will be brighter or therapy will really "work."
By the way, you may as well multiple all of this fear by 20 if you’re coming in for couples therapy because your partner will be there to bear witness to the ugly mess that has become you. At least, that's what you fear.
“That’s scary sh*t. I’m not signing up for that!”
I won’t lie and tell you that there aren’t scary parts of therapy. This is less a myth and more of a reality of what it may feel like.
It can be jarring and very uncomfortable to pick at the wounds of the past, learn things about yourself that aren’t so pretty, and feel emotions like shame, guilt, regret, and sadness.
But I doubt you’d be reading this if you didn’t at least suspect that there may be value to it.
Our minds have a neat little trick they play where they predict the worst possible outcomes imaginable about certain situations to protect us from potential harm. So don’t beat yourself up for catastrophizing the therapy process. It’s normal and simply means your brain is doing its job.
However, I’d encourage you to be open and recognize that there’s value in the seemingly scary aspects of therapy. No one steps outside of their comfort zones without at least a bit of fear.
And whether we own up to it or not, no one reveals more of their true selves without a bit of fear of being judged for it.
The fear is normal. Lean into it and push beyond it. And remember, you’ll have my help every step of the way.
Myth #5: There are a million other things could be doing with that hour rather than going to therapy
You’re not alone in this feeling. While therapy can give you positive, life-changing results, for many of us it feels akin to having to eat our vegetables. We know it’s good for us, but we’d much rather be eating cake!
The idea of going to an office once a week when we could be doing something far more enjoyable with that time (at least in theory) doesn’t sound so appealing. I get it.
But let's be honest, most of us lack commitment at times and need structure. And without that weekly appointment in place, chances are that that hour spent coming in for a session would not be spent on something more productive or pressing.
Could it be spent on something more fun? Sure. But would it actually be spent on something more important? Probably not.
There are few things more important than the mental health of you and your relationships.
Here's a positive to chew on though: many of my clients are surprised to find themselves genuinely wanting to keep coming, even after the hardest of sessions. They know they’ll be better off for it.
So if you can push past your initial resistance, you may just find yourself looking forward to your therapy sessions!
Myth #6: I’d have to hide my therapy
Unfortunately, I hear this a lot. And for many clients it's true.
There is still a societal stigma attached to therapy and many of my clients find themselves hiding their treatment from family and friends. Otherwise, they'll be looked at and treated differently, or hear damaging comments that undermine they're therapy work.
To this I say...
Do what feels most right for you. I’ll never tell you what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do when it comes to disclosing your treatment to others in your life.
However, you may be pleasantly surprised at how supportive your loved ones can be if you do decide to share this with them. Often, my clients find that the judgement and shame about being in therapy was all internal, and their family and friends show nothing but support and respect for their decision to get professional help. In some cases, it even encourages their loved ones to seek their own help!
Ok, I think I'm ready to give it a try. But I don’t know how to start or what to expect. (And I’ve read horror stories on the Interwebs!)
Glad you're feeling more ready to start therapy!
But seriously, do yourself a favor and stop reading therapy horror stories in the dark corners of the Internet:) It'll only make you feel fearful and anxious, and it's no way to prepare for starting the process.
If you want to feel prepared, give yourself real data. Read my website. Read my reviews. Talk with me by phone.
I’ll work hard to help you know what to expect before beginning therapy. Being nervous about the process is very common and completely understandable.
But the gap between your expectations of therapy and the reality of it can be very wide, especially if you’ve never sought therapy before. We’ll work together to close that gap as much as possible before your first appointment. In the meantime, try to relax!