Is therapy really worth it?

The word “therapy" means different things to different people. Some prefer to call it counselling or simply “talking to someone”. Whatever you call it, that’s what I am talking about. 

What do you do when you want to talk to someone, to get something off your chest and not seem like a crazy person - see a therapist. 

My stance on therapy has evolved over the years. Initially I thought only people who seriously needed help went to therapy. But, when I started University the head of the Counselling Programme addressed us at orientation and said that “people may think you’re crazy if you go to counselling, but you’re crazy if you don’t”. After hearing that I went to the first few sessions because they were free, and when I realized I had to start paying, I stopped going. After-all, I had a pretty good life - no mommy or daddy issues, I was doing fairly well in school, I had some pretty cool friends and I had not gone through any traumatic events. 

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As I got older, I came to realize that my first stance that “only people who seriously needed help went to therapy” was flawed in so many ways. If you have never been to therapy, how will you know that you need any kind of help? 

When I moved away for school, I felt like that would have been “sufficient trauma” for me to use the counselling services that were included in my tuition. So, I decided to go see a therapist. At that point, so many other things had been boiling under the surface that I was being bogged down without even noticing it. It’s also a little ridiculous that I didn’t feel it necessary to see someone again (after all those years); and that it took something like me moving several thousand miles away to a place I have never been, and where I know no-one - for me to think I was now “therapy material”. 

We tell ourselves a lot of things about the situations we find ourselves in and the “stuff” that happens to us. But, is it the truth? Is it what we really think? Are we just trying to hide the feelings from rearing their ugly heads and disrupting this perfect facade we’ve created? Is it something we can overcome? Do we need help… professional help?

A therapist does not give you answers. They provide you with coping mechanisms / strategies to deal with and eventually eliminate whatever is causing you pain, anguish or discomfort. The service of a therapist or counsellor is about helping you find ways to manage your reactions to stimuli … hurtful stimuli - things you have tried to brush off or conceal for years.

This is a scary realization. It is difficult to unearth and uproot these things. It is hard to go back to a place that we have tried all our lives to run away from. But imagine the healing that will result. Imagine how much more you will flourish when that weight is lifted off your shoulders. Imagine how your future will change. 

You may already be sold on the idea of therapy but the cost might be prohibitive. Before I started paying to see someone, I had mapped out in my head that I would see my counsellor every quarter or at the very most - every month. I had already worked out that I needed help managing a few things and that I didn’t need to sit and shoot the breeze every week. 

So, first thing’s first - after your first session work out what you think you need from your therapist. You can probably have this discussion with them, but ultimately it’s your decision to make, and if you decide that it’s not working out then you can maybe see how you can slot in a few more. 

In the same way we scour the internet for deals (or is that just me?) try to find some of the most cost-effective ways to access therapy. Now, they may not be the best or most attentive therapists but it is a start. 

Sometimes it can feel like a waste of money, especially if your therapist is the kind that lets you do ALL THE TALKING. Like, am I paying you all this money to sit here and listen to my own voice? But, always remember… if it is not helpful for you then find another therapist, or look at other solutions. 

Therapy may not be for everyone. You may prefer to meditate or exercise or even write your feelings down in a journal (or maybe you prefer a combination of these). 

At the end of the day it’s all about you: your healing, your unpacking, your mental wellness and your future. 

Do what makes you feel happy…and light.