Booking your first psychotherapy session can be intimidating. If you have never been to psychotherapy, you may wonder if it’s worth the money and the risk. If you have seen a psychotherapist before, you may be hesitant to start over with someone new, especially if your previous therapist just wasn’t a fit for you.
Psychotherapy is a relationship where one person has been trained to give another person effective support for emotional, relationship, mental health and life issues. Within that relationship, the psychotherapist uses communication and specific techniques or treatment methods to help you reach the goals you agree on. (As people often refer to psychotherapy as just “therapy”, I will be using both terms interchangeably in this blog.)
Although there is stigma around it, it is now quite common for people to seek psychotherapy. Psychotherapy – besides having a ‘clinical’ name – is about connecting with someone who is trained to help. Your relationship with your psychotherapist is one of the few in your life that will focus exclusively on you, your well-being and your goals.
If you’re wondering if psychotherapy could help you, here are five things to consider:
1. Fit is important.
All psychotherapists have different styles and offer different services, so whether psychotherapy will work for you is often a matter of “fit”. It’s important to find someone whose therapy style matches your needs. Are you looking for support with day to day coping? Or deeper work to resolve issues you’ve inherited from your parents? Since all therapists have specific strengths, it is important to find someone who can meet your needs.
Finding a therapist with whom you can feel comfortable is very important. That person should be someone who:
- You can eventually trust,
- You feel comfortable talking to,
- You like enough to work with, and ultimately do some healing.
Listen to your gut when you meet with a new therapist. Besides the normal nervousness of your first session, do you get an okay feeling about them? Enough to move forward with therapy? If you’re unsure after your first meeting, you could meet with them again to see if a second session makes a difference. What does your gut tell you? Maybe you’ll find they’re the right fit for you. If not, you can always look around to find another therapist that feels like a better fit.
2. Psychotherapy can benefit everyone at some point in their life.
At some point in everyone’s life, things aren’t working as well as they could be. Sometimes we have ongoing problems like depression, or specific experiences like accidents or hurtful relationships. At some point in our life, we could all use a little help.
Psychotherapy can be helpful in a variety of life situations, including:
- Feeling stuck,
- Life, relationship or work issues,
- Trauma, stress, depression or anxiety,
- Physical health problems that can’t be explained,
- When talking to family or friends about issues doesn’t help,
- Dealing with the stress of an illness, loss or other difficult situation,
- If an experience that’s affecting you doesn’t go away – be it a memory, a fear, difficult emotions or negative thoughts or beliefs,
- That feeling that you could feel better on a day to day basis – be happier, calmer or more in control of your life.
If you’re curious about therapy, it’s probably for a good reason. Maybe there’s something you can use support with, and that’s what therapists are for.
3. Connection with others is helpful, and essential.
People are social beings. Many of us strive for independence, but at the end of the day our brains and bodies are wired to connect with other people. Asking others for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Getting help from others is essential for our survival, and to be happy and healthy.
Sharing your concerns with a psychotherapist can help in many ways. Talking to someone who is trained and outside your family or social circle can help you gain perspective on your situation. It can be hard to identify issues in our day to day. A therapist can help you to take a step back and see what’s actually going on.
Seeing a therapist also gives you the chance to compartmentalize your life – meaning that you don’t have to worry about everything all the time. It can be okay to set things aside when you know that you are working on them. This can reduce your day to day worry and the stress of having to work it all out on your own, on top of everything else.
Finally, it’s amazing to say out-loud the things you’ve been afraid to say. Speaking the truth and having someone hear it can be very powerful in itself.
4. Psychotherapy looks different for everyone, depending on their needs.
For some people, therapy will focus on their day-to-day life, helping them to build coping skills and relationship skills so they can feel good about their actions, themselves and their relationships. For others who feel more stable and want to focus on past traumatic experiences, such as a car accident or abuse, psychotherapy might focus on working through those specific issues. It all depends on the person, their experiences and their goals.
Some people may have extensive work they want do to, and they may decide that they need psychotherapy over a longer period. Other people may feel much better and reach the goals they’ve set with their therapist after only a few sessions.
5. Psychotherapy can really help, if you’re ready to receive help.
The biggest factor that can determine if therapy is successful is whether you feel ready and committed to really give it a try. If so, then you’re on good footing to have successes with psychotherapy and benefit from the support your therapist has to offer you.
It can be scary to reach out for help, talk about painful experiences or make changes. As a psychotherapist my role is not only to support people in identifying and working towards their individual goals, but also to support them in overcoming the barriers that get in the way.
If you are ready to receive help and work through issues that may be getting in the way of living your life or achieving your goals, psychotherapy may be right for you.
If you’re curious about psychotherapy and wonder if it can help you, I offer a free 15 minute consultation where we can discuss any questions you may have. If you’re interested, contact me.