I will readily admit that I am not one of those people who shy away from therapy. I’ve been in therapy for years, ever since my psychological profile required for ordination revealed that part of me feeling crazy was due to minor, chronic depression. I had a choice: go to therapy – or don’t go in to ministry. (It wasn’t having depression that would make me unsuitable for ministry, it was rejecting personal healing would.)
The experience of having multiple therapists over the years, the process itself, and lots of conversations with others, prompts me to write this “public service announcement”. As always, these are my personal insights and observations, and may not reflect your individual experience – but many of us are more alike than we think.
- I can handle it myself. Many times we can handle it ourselves. Everyone goes through minor depressions or times of stress. But, if it turns into a chronic situation (weeks or months on end) and gets in the way of having appropriate relationships with others, then it is time to see someone. Our amazing brains protect ourselves by creating amazing coping skills, but when those coping skills fail us, we need someone to help us identify what isn’t working and figure out a new way.
- It isn’t me, she/he is the one who needs help. You are probably right. He or she, or they, probably do need help. But why wait for them to change? There is only so much you can do, but if you can’t or don’t want to cut them out of your life, why not learn how to deal with them better? Maybe it won’t change a lot, but in just a few sessions you can learn a lot about how they think and act, and may just learn a bit about yourself in the process.
- I don’t want to share all my secrets. You don’t have to. You are ultimately in control of what you tell the therapist. Yes, they may push the boundaries of what you feel comfortable to share – but perhaps that is what you need to resolve your issues. Yet – you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to, or share something before you are ready to.
- Therapy is too expensive. Yes, without insurance – and even with insurance, it can be expensive. Some places provide care on a sliding scale, and in the end, if one session is comparable to an unnecessary trip to Target, which will have a lasting impact on your life?
- I don’t have time. We are busy, I get it. Taking an hour out of your week (or two weeks, or month) is difficult, but what about all that time you spend worrying, complaining, and fighting with others? What about all the time you spend feeling shamed, uncomfortable, and indecisive? Think of it as an investment in your future – take care of the issues now, and you’ll have more fun and enjoyment later on.
- I tried it once, but didn’t like the therapist. I so get this! I’ve had one who talked to much and I didn’t feel like she was listening to me (the #1 job of a therapist). Another time I just didn’t feel comfortable, but had not particular complaints – but I wasn’t getting better. One even missed scheduled appointments! But I kept pursuing it, and finally ended up with the perfect match for me, and now just go in for “tune-ups” now and then. How do you know if it is the right fit? You’ll know. Check out this site for listings as it includes lots of information various therapists.
- I don’t want anyone else to know. First, you would be surprised just how many people go see a therapist. It’s just like going to a personal trainer, expect for your mind, heart and soul. Second, you don’t have to tell anyone. And if you are really worried about someone you know finding out, many therapists have private offices. Still no? Start by meeting with a Spiritual Director or a Pastor or Chaplain with extra training in pastoral care/therapy.
- It’s not for me. It won’t help me. How do you know? I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time you tried something new and found out if was good for you.
I pray that whatever you are facing, you find a way through it and to the other side.