Karen L. Smith MSS LCSW
Maybe you have been thinking about it for years, maybe you went for a bit years ago and it wasn’t great, or maybe people have suggested it to you over the years but it seemed silly. If you have never done a serious and successful stint of real psychotherapy, if not now, when?
Here are some of the many reasons therapy will likely do you, and the people in your life, some real good.
- Giving yourself a dedicated hour once a week to contemplate yourself, your life, your relationships, and your world view, is priceless. Can you do that kind of focused contemplation outside of therapy? Definitely. Will you? Probably not with the consistency of weekly sessions.
- It is not that the therapist is impartial. It is that there only real concern is your wellbeing. Say you are considering a move to a new town. Unlike your friends they can be solely invested in how that decision will impact you. Say you are considering leaving a soul crushing job but will make less money. They can help you think about that without it having implications for them. Say what you are talking about floods and overwhelms you and you start talking in an aggressive loud tone. While they may point it out, to help you understand what is going on for you, you don’t have to take care of their feelings or reactions to your energy.
- Among other of their roles, therapists are guides for the internal world. They are travelers who have worked hard to forge their own paths inside themselves, and have guided many other travelers through otherwise rocky and unfamiliar terrain. They know something about when to slow down, when to push forward, when to steer the course, and where to shine a light. Much of our suffering has the clues to its repair inside of us, but we need to know how and where to look, and how to make the necessary links. Doing this on our own, no matter how insight oriented we are, hinders our progress, as our unconscious is designed to create blinders specifically for us.
- Unless you were magnificently cared for as a child, by parents who accepted and celebrated you, and could regulate their own emotions enough to give you the space to fully be yourself, therapy is a chance to have that experience. Psychotherapist are skilled in their ability to sit with and contain their emotions/thoughts/reactions as well as yours. They can handle your self-exploration without having to direct it or change it or judge it. There investment in the conversation is for you to fully understand your truths, not adjust them to their needs/values/beliefs. You may feel challenged sometimes, to see all of your truths, but you will be supported in becoming a fuller expression of yourself.
- Therapists deal in truth. We work to be honest with ourselves, and try to help our clients be honest with themselves. What that means is we are honest with our clients. If clients ask me if they are paranoid, and they are paranoid, I say yes, you are paranoid. I may say other things too, but I won’t lie. I often don’t agree that my opinion will help helpful or relevant, but once exploring a clients motivation to hear my opinion, I will offer it up.
- Real psychotherapists aren’t offering up their options left and right. We aren’t founts of wisdom. What we know is process, and how to find your own truths. So unlike your friends and family who all have their own opinions, in our work (not necessarily our home lives!), we know our job is to help you find out your answers.
These are only some of the ways therapy can be a game changer in our lives. I will add a caveat though; not all therapists are great. It is really important that you do your research so you can land with a good therapist. This means reaching out to family, friends and colleagues who may have been in therapy for recommendations. Even though you may not want to see their therapist, you may be able to get a recommendation from their therapist to a trusted colleague. I can’t express the import of a solid referral enough.