Many people who reach out to me have long been toying with the idea of starting therapy. They have searched Google for providers, or for answers to questions like “is this normal?” or “what should I do when…?” or “do I need a therapist?”. They have spent minutes staring at the “contact me” page for a therapist, only to decide that therapy may not be for them. What happens in these moments? Many times, these are the moments when feelings or beliefs about therapy begin to surface. “Therapy is only for crazy people”; “Therapy is self-indulgent”; “You don’t need a therapist- you have a job (or a partner… or a house… or a family…”; “Only weak people need therapy”; “Your problems aren’t real problems”. These thoughts are usually enough to push the idea of therapy back into its proverbial box in your mind and move on with the day. Until that next time (maybe in a week, maybe a few months, or maybe years) that you open that box back up. Sound familiar?
So where do these feelings and beliefs come from?
I believe that we as a society tend to be fairly accepting of therapy as a treatment options for individuals coping with mental illness or a diagnosed condition (major depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc.). This may stem from the fact that for many years the field of psychology focused primarily on issues of human suffering and problems; the goal of treatment was symptom alleviation and returning individuals to a baseline of functioning. Through the years, therapy has demonstrated itself to be an incredible treatment option for individuals in crisis, for humans who are suffering, for people who just don’t want to feel bad anymore. Many people make it in to therapy when they have hit the depths of their struggle; and, my goodness, I am so happy to see these individuals reach out during this time. Life can be so hard, so full of pain, so void of light. When clients find themselves at this point, I start by joining them, right there in the dark, and work with them to find the path forward.
Many of us can relate to these moments of pain; but what if that isn’t where you are now? What if you are “simply” in a period of transition or stress? What if you are able to function and fulfill your responsibilities, but are feeling like there is something missing? Can therapy still be right for you?
Many clients approach me in a state of feeling “stuck”; they aren’t drowning, but they aren’t thriving. Perhaps there has been a recent life change that has left you feeling unsettled or uprooted. Perhaps there have been hardships, traumas, or injuries from the past that have been left mostly unprocessed and that you suspect may be impacting important areas of your life. Perhaps it is difficult for you to point to something specific that is “wrong” or “problematic”, but you are feeling disconnected or stagnant. For clients who find themselves in these situations, therapy often involves exploration and development of strengths, personal growth, and insight- all of which can promote overall well-being and the ability to thrive.
So, should you go to therapy? Ultimately, only you can answer that question. But do know that the paths that lead individuals to therapy are varied and distinct, and that if you find yourself returning to that proverbial box in your mind labeled “therapy”, maybe now can be the time you decide to open it and try it. For more information or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.
Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Santa Clarita, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.