Blair Rhodes, LCSW
Do I Even Need Therapy?
Updated: May 28, 2020
The month of May is such a special time- spring is in full bloom, there is Mother's day, and memorial day. It is also a month that celebrates mental health! So whether you are a mental health provider or you are someone who is caring for your own mental health, this month celebrates the awareness of all things mental health. As a teletherapist I am especially excited for the future of mental health care.
There is still so much stigma around mental health care and one of my missions as a therapist is to reduce that stigma and help people feel more comfortable talking about difficult things. Throughout American culture, mental health is often seen as a taboo, even today. People are reluctant to get the care they need and deserve, because “I should be able to handle this myself,” Or “what would happen if someone found out?” Or “talking about my problems doesn't make them go away.” Or one of my personal favorites, “I've tried it before and it doesn't work.” --- Y'all, these are stuck points in our thinking and they are holding us back from our full potential. For this Mental Health Month, I would like to highlight some steps for overcoming the fears of seeking therapy and offer up some real guidance on how to get connected with someone who can actually help you.
The most common obstacle to seeking mental health care is the expense. Therapy is not cheap and it can be really hard to shell out your hard earned money on something that you aren't even sure is going to help. Let me stop you right there: therapy is an investment in yourself and YOU can help yourself heal in ways you never thought possible. A therapist's job is to guide you in that healing and to help you identify patterns, “stuck points,” and examine possibilities. The therapist is not what makes you better, YOU are what makes you better. Therapists just play a role in helping you dig in, stay accountable, and wrestle the hard stuff. You do not have to do all that by yourself.
You might need a therapist if:
- Your friends are tired of listening to the same problems over and over.
- You don't really feel like you have anyone you can talk to about your problem.
- You are afraid to talk about your problem.
- You are not coping well with your problem even with the support of loved ones.
- You feel your problem is impacting your life in negative or harmful ways.
If you are finding yourself in some of these situations, it might be worth the investment in yourself to see a therapist to help you navigate towards healthier habits, coping, and ultimately healing. If you have health insurance, check your benefits and ask your insurance provider for a list of in-network therapists. Some health plans offer out of network coverage which might reimburse you for some of the cost of therapy if your therapist can give you a super bill. Some therapists can accept payment from Health Savings Accounts. If none of that will work for you and you simply cannot afford to pay the full fee, it never hurts to inquire if the therapist you want to see has any sliding scale spots available. This is a fee you pay at a reduced rate based on income.
Now with all that being said, finding the RIGHT therapist for your individual needs is crucial. While it may be true that you are not paying someone to “fix you”, but rather to guide you through the process of healing, it is very important that you feel comfortable with that person. It may not be a good match if:
- You don't trust your therapist.
- You don't feel like they are listening or hearing you out.
- You find that you don't like their modality or therapeutic approach:
-- For example, if you are a hands on learner, but they only offer feedback in analogies.
-- Or, if you prefer to just talk through your thoughts and feelings but they are offering too
- You simply don't get a good vibe from your therapist.
Therapists are human beings and like any other human, they have personalities, biases, and lived experiences that influence how they show up in therapy sessions. Because of this, you may find that you have to try out a few before you find “the one.” In my experience, it is difficult to find therapists who specialize in any one particular area, so you may have to sift through several websites or profiles before finding someone that seems like a good fit. While this task can feel time consuming and discouraging, I highly recommend doing this research! Imagine just picking the first therapist that pops up in a general search for the issue you are working on. You go through the effort of booking for first appointment and either shell out a full fee, or coordinate with your insurance if you can. . . only to find out that this person does not “get” you. You can avoid this by understanding first- what are you looking to accomplish in therapy, evaluating how the therapist is presenting themselves in their website or profile, and maybe even doing a quick web search of the therapy modalities they use (CBT vs EMDR vs Narrative vs Positive Psych, etc.). Doing a little research can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable with the process and what to expect.
And finally, take advantage of phone consultations if they are offered (usually for free!). The best way to determine goodness of fit, would be to do a quick phone consult with your potential therapist and examine how you feel during and after that call. Trust your instincts and if it feels right then go for it! If you end the conversation feeling uncertain or even more confused- that might be a sign to keep looking.
This information is intended to take some of the mystery out of starting the process of therapy, but it is by no means the only information to consider. I would love to hear any other tips on accessing the right mental health care- either from fellow therapists or those who have successfully engaged in therapy!
Every month can be mental health month when you know how to take advantage of the care you need to stay well.