What stops you from finding a therapist?
Some of my presenting clients (particularly couples) may not be actively “in crisis.” Others did not necessarily have self-identified therapy goals they were immediately trying to reach. Rather, imagine that everyone just had a therapist on their list of helpers, right along-side their hairstylist/
barber, mechanic, or babysitter.
Unfortunately, certain misconceptions can deter some from seeking therapy or considering therapy as a regular part of their self-care took kit (like a personal trainer). If you think going to therapy feels like a luxury, unnecessary, self-indulgent, or simply insufficient to solve the larger social problems we all worry about, this article might be for you.
Therapists are trained to handle LOTS of topics
In her Self magazine article Therapy…Evidence-Based Self-Care, Casey Gueren wrote, “there are lots of reasons to go to therapy that have nothing to do with mental illness.” Here’s the American Counseling Association’s definition of professional counseling: …a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.
I recently consulted with a potential client who was looking for a counselor who could also provide resources for buying a home and managing finances. I said I wouldn’t refer a specific financial planner
or mortgage company, but we could definitely talk about a client’s relevant financial history, relationship to money, beliefs and feelings about money, financial behaviors, habits, constraints, personal plans for change, and more.
“There are lots of reasons to go to therapy that have nothing to do with mental illness.”
According to Dr. Grant Brenner’s article, Money Talk in the Therapy Room, talking about money “reveals important information about a [client’s] personality, coping style and resources.” Money talks can also provide clues about healthy or unhealthy relationship dynamics. Maybe you would like to explore reasons why you can’t leave a draining job, or even ask for more pay.
Bottom line, there are no right or wrong topics to talk about during therapy, and no matter the subject, therapists are trained to keep sessions ethical and professional.
Therapy is also for the “strong”
It does not matter how much of a self-sufficient, “boss” you might be, or how robust and supportive your family and friend groups are. You may still benefit – significantly — from an investment in therapy and the subsequent work on yourself. But maybe you are… you know… okay. Maybe you feel pretty good a lot of the time. You may just feel as though that friend or partner, who is also level-headed, sensible, and a great listener, is enough to hold your all problems. Maybe you think therapy is only for people who don’t have anyone else to talk to, or who consider therapy as a rock-bottom, last resort.
“Maybe you feel pretty good a lot of the time.”
Gueren points to potential cultural factors that may reinforce perceptions of self-sufficiency. Examples include the strong Black woman trope, or the stigma attached to talking about mental health in certain Asian cultures. As a Black woman, I have been on the receiving end of messages telling me I need to act stronger, to accept less help, and to simultaneously achieve more and carry more responsibilities than my White counterparts.
There is also substantiated racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations in healthcare settings. Studies show that Blacks are less likely than Whites to receive medication for similar reports of pain, and that they more frequently have their pain underestimated. Combined, these factors alone could be disastrous for the overall wellness of Black women. Maybe you can “handle it” alone, but you don’t necessarily have to. A qualified therapist can introduce you to coping tools and psychoeducational concepts that could enhance the resources you already have.
Maybe you can “handle it” alone, but you don’t necessarily have to.
Therapy can be affordable
When seeking out a counselor, it is worthwhile to ask about their efforts to increase access and offset
costs for eligible clients. For example, therapists at The Imago Center of Washington, DC:
- have competitive fees (compared with other similar DC-based agencies)
- offer a sliding scale (makes it possible for a broader range of clients to afford therapy; based on their income, a client’s rate may be more or less)
- include supervised interns (who are working towards licensure and on a lower fee scale)
- discuss/negotiate fees with clients
- may refer within the agency or to external agencies (i.e. pro bono counseling, etc.)
If you are wondering if you might need to talk to a therapist, consider these things: You are wondering
for a reason. Therapy can help. Everyone deserves to get the care they need. Talk to friends and learn
about their experiences with therapy. Consider a therapy group. Therapy can be affordable. There’s no
threshold for how bad things have to be before starting therapy.
There’s no threshold for how bad things have to be before starting therapy.