September 7, 2018
So often when I’m talking about my experience in therapy, I get asked what the point of having a therapist is. Why should I pay to go talk to someone? What do therapists do that my family and friends don’t? Isn’t it weird telling all of your business to a complete stranger? Today I give you five reasons (in no particular order) why you should give therapy a try.
Disclaimer: I will be using the words counseling/counselor and therapy/therapist interchangeably. They are the same thing/person.
By law, therapists are not allowed to discuss your personal information with anyone. What you and your therapist talk about in your sessions stays in your sessions. There are only a couple reasons your therapist would HAVE to break confidentiality: if they feel you may be of harm to yourself or others, or if they get court ordered or subpoenaed by a judge. Can you 100% guarantee your friends and family will keep your secrets and sensitive information to themselves? Think about it.
Your therapist does not know you, and although that may be a little nerve wrecking to most, this means that he/she will be totally objective and unbiased. Many times our family and friends tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. They are automatically on our side. Your therapist is not afraid to hold you accountable or play devil’s advocate.
3. Therapists are Not Advice-Givers
There is this misconception that all therapists do is spend the whole session giving advice. No wonder so many people believe that therapists are no different than their family and friends! Therapists are there to guide and facilitate you toward whatever goals, healing, or emotion regulation you are seeking. They are not there to do the work for you. Therapists help you help yourself. By asking the right questions, making meaning out of the things you say, and strategically reflecting your words, therapists help you come up with the answers to your own problems.
4. Therapists are Guided by Theory and Research
Therapists don’t just sit down for every session and wing it. ALL therapists have at least one theoretical approach. Theories, in counseling, explain and predict behavior and they tell therapists how to help their clients. There are theories that help clients change their emotions by changing their thinking. There are theories that exist specifically to heal families. Some theories serve the purpose of helping the client find solutions to his/her problems. There are theories for everything, and unless ya mama or daddy is a therapist, they don’t know any of them.
5. Therapists are trained…and trained…and trained!
You guys, I’m so tired just thinking about the amount of school and internship I have left, the licensing exams, and additional internship I’ll have to do AFTER graduation! In May 2019, I’ll be graduating after nearly three years of grad school. I’m currently doing my first of two internships for the year. I have to get 300 internship hours by the end of the semester and half of those must be face to face with clients (direct). I have to take the National Counselor Exam in order to graduate and to pursue licensure. Once I’ve graduated I have to do another internship, this time accruing a whopping 3,000 hours, half being direct. All of this must be done before submitting an application for licensure. I say all of this to say that becoming a therapist is a long process that continues well after graduation. Therapists have put in the time and work to do what they do and none of it is taken lightly. Now of course, no one is perfect, but you will (most likely) be in good hands.
I’m not guaranteeing that you will have a good counseling experience or that counseling will be right for you, but I do believe it’s worth a try. Therapy is no different from any other investment. We invest in our appearance right? Ladies, we get our nails done every two weeks. Fellas, you get your haircut and pay for that gym membership. Let’s invest in our mental health. Also, don’t get discouraged if the first therapist you try isn’t for you. You wouldn’t stop going to the doctor just because you didn’t like your first one right? And remember there are alternative methods to traditional therapy such as Talkspace, an online therapy company. Give it a shot.
The Life Therapist