At the start of the first session, I often ask my new client, "How do you feel about being here?
Nearly everyone has the same response.
"I feel nervous," they say.
I explain that feelng nervous is normal and natural and the feeling usually goes away in a few minutes -- which it invariably does. And very soon after that, they begin to understand how therapy can help. Simply having somone to talk with about your problem, maybe something you haven’t been able to share with anyone else, and to be heard without a hint of judgment can be healing by itself. But the benefits of therapy run so much deeper.
You are thinking about contacting a therapist, because you need help. You've decided that it's time for a change. And changing for the better is what therapy is all about.
No one comes to therapy on time, just like no one leaves a job or a relationship on the first day things begin to take a wrong turn. We wait. We give it some time to see whether things will get better. We make efforts to fix he problems. Usually, we wait longer and try to fix things some more. We may go through cycle after cycle of waiting for that job or that relationship to improve. And then, finally, when things have been bad enough for long enough, we leave that job or end the relationship in the hope we will move on to something better.
The decision to start therapy is very much like that. I've been working as a therapist for decades, and I can honestly say no one has called me on the first day of any problem. So when a problem has caused enough stress and pain and you haven’t been able to overcome it, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to get help.
Therapy can benefit people in virtually any life situation that feels stuck. The possibilities are endless, but it’s very likely that therapy would help if you:
- Have consistent feelings of sadness or anxiety.
- Find yourself in a relationship that is unfulfilling or a series of relationships that seem to always end up the same way.
- Have problems concentrating at work or other tasks that require focus.
- Feel like you haven’t been living up to your potential at work, at school, or in your life generally.
- Find yourself worrying for a significant part of each day.
- Don't enjoy many of the things that you used to look forward to. You feel disconnected from life.
- Avoid many of your usual activities, especially those that involve engaging with other people.
- Feel stuck and hopeless about the future.
- Have difficulties in relationships, either with past partners or someone you are currently with.
- Are easily irritated or get angry and people in your life are concerned about your aggressive behavior.
- You often turn to alcohol or other substances to feel better.
People seek therapy because problems have been bad enough for long enough. If you’re reading this, you very likely have a problem you'd like to fix but haven't been able to. If you knew how to move past it, it would already be behind you. So it makes sense to get help from someone with the training and experience to help you work through it.