Who is therapy for?

            I feel a shift in the culture. For a long time, therapy was seen as taboo. Tailored to damaged people with serious disorders. For people who couldn’t, “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” so to speak. I see that changing now. It is becoming acceptable to seek therapy, and I love that the experience is being talked about. I love that the phrase, “My therapist says…” has become silly and almost cliché. That means that seeking help or thriving for improvement is not something we have to do behind closed doors anymore. You may have even seen some therapy sessions being televised as entertainment. The reason this shift strikes me as such a positive is not just because it means I have a job; though that is a plus. I find it so great because it means therapy is no longer a market that is out of reach or out of touch with the mainstream population. What would be the reaction if you told your best friend you were in therapy? We can probably all recall a time or a moment in which therapy seemed like a necessary tool, and my guess is even as you read this you might have a thought floating around about why you might go (tough relationship, struggles with coworkers, bad anxiety, feeling stuck).

            So with therapy being accessible, increasingly affordable (either through health insurance, sliding scale providers, local agencies), and generally effective, what keeps people from scheduling their first session? My guess is fear. Fear of choosing the wrong therapist, fear of what might come out (Repressed memories are not as big of an issue as one may think. They are like quicksand–encountered by few), fear of what kind of commitment it will take, fear of change. All of these fears are completely valid, and at least one is experienced by nearly everyone who decides to start therapy. What I would love to do is alleviate one of the common fears: the first session.

            The first session is the scariest for lots of reasons. You are going to a new place and meeting a new person–scary. Scary if you were doing it under the best of circumstances. But usually you don’t decide to start therapy when things are going perfectly, you decide to start therapy when things are going downhill, and since the therapist knows that, it feels like a check against you. It isn’t. As a therapist, it is not my job to judge you, it is my job to work with you. I am not going to tell you how badly you have failed or what you have done wrong (that is something you’re scared of too, right?). The last thing I want to do is dig the hole deeper. So judge your therapist in the first session. Take control, and make it an interview. Ask yourself if you can be yourself with that person. Ask yourself if you can confront some big issues with that person. If the answer is no, then that therapist might not be the right fit. But try another one. We all set out in this field to help, and to give the best care possible, and if you don’t find the right person right away, you will eventually. The first session in an investment in moving forward, and you want to get a return on that investment. It will likely feel strange, but that goes away, and you are left with an amazing opportunity for growth and empowerment. 

 

If you are interested in scheduling a session, visit my website: www.jacquelineplantetherapy.com

 

And as always, feel free to submit questions via email to jacquelineplante.mft@gmail.com (Submissions will be kept anonymous).

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