When is therapy a good idea?
May 18, 2010 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Is therapy still a good idea for me?

Have been considering the therapy option off and on for over a year. I won't go into the "why", just suffice to say I've had some doubts about various aspects of my life (mostly dating/social/relationship-related), plus some additional stress-inducing elements that have muddied the waters as of late.

Here's the thing - I put off going to a therapist twice in the past year. The first time was because I got kind of spooked and guess I felt like I should be able to handle this myself - also because I couldn't identify a particular reason for wanting therapy (stupid I know, I'm still not even sure why I canceled!). The second was because I lost my job the week before my first appointment and was frantically looking for ways to save money (ironically, therapy would've saved me a lot of grief at that time).

I'm now debating whether to proceed because, while there are certain aspects of my life I'm somewhat unhappy with, I'm really not in the sort of "I'm desperate!" rut I've felt in the past and I've always thought of as synonymous with needing therapy. I suspect part of this is personal growth, but a larger part is probably because I relocated recently and have been way too busy to get depressed or to think about personal improvement these past few weeks. On the flip side, I'm finally settled into one location for at least the next few months, finally have some semblance of health insurance, and have a steady paycheck. I told myself a while back that I would seek out a therapist as soon as I met all those criteria, and here I am.

So if I go ahead and go, what do I do exactly - particularly if I don't have any particular complaint to air? I guess I'm more interested in talking and examining my life as opposed to actually "fixing" something, if that makes any sense. I just wondering whether the expense is worth it if I don't have some sort of urgent issue. By the way, I have never done therapy so I have no idea what to expect nor do I know if my feelings are typical.

Not posting anonymously because I'm in the process of making an appointment right now, and I can't wait for the mods to clear my post.
posted by photo guy to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would do it. It's actually not a bad idea to get therapy BEFORE you're desperate. Think of it as getting new tools to improve your life.
posted by lleachie at 5:11 AM on May 18, 2010

Talk therapy can be a positive experience, IMO. Even when things are going well in my life, I still find that it helps me to talk with someone besides friends/family that can look at my life in a more unbiased way. The things that I think about and talk about can sometimes surprise me, and cause me to look at a situation differently.

Perhaps you can meet with the therapist and lay out what you just posted here, and they can help you in finding the right person to talk with. You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself. Much luck to you.
posted by mnb64 at 5:12 AM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: I think not having "some sort of urgent issue" is the perfect time to see a therapist. Especially if you're feeling a general dissatisfaction with some or many aspects of yourself and/or your life. The therapist can help you identify what it is that's bothering you, really, and help you work through it. If you have the resources, I think you'll find it's a well-spent investment in your future self.
posted by bardophile at 5:12 AM on May 18, 2010

The first time was because I got kind of spooked and guess I felt like I should be able to handle this myself - also because I couldn't identify a particular reason for wanting therapy

Which is precisely what you're doing right now.

Quit dithering about it and just go, already. If you've been debating this for over a year, it's worth the cost of a single appointment to if nothing else find out what it's all about, no?
posted by ook at 5:32 AM on May 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

There aren't any major crises in my life right now, and yet I find my weekly therapy to be very useful. I'm learning a lot about myself and finding it easier to deal with stressful situations when they come up because I've internalized my therapist's reactions to things. I would recommend it.
posted by heatherann at 5:39 AM on May 18, 2010

i was concerned about the same thing. and i went in, saying, oh, i don't really have any specific issues to address, just wanted to talk through things. within a few minutes my therapist had helped cull out "issues" to address. seeing a good therapist makes all the difference in the world. i would definitely go and see how it feels. and also remember that there are good and bad therapists out there. and within the good range, there are many different personalities (therapists, shockingly, are people too!) and styles - so you may need to try out more than one person, or try out more than one session, to build trust/a connection.
posted by anya32 at 5:48 AM on May 18, 2010

Therapy is really a way to get a more objective view of what's going on for you. A therapist can see the "bigger picture" and perhaps some of your blind spots and reflect that back to you in a way that you can see it and take action. That's all it is. :) So, if you find yourself in need of an objective opinion, I say go for it. If you are getting an inner nudge to go, I'd follow that.
posted by Mysticalchick at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2010

You'd be surprised at how many things you have to talk about when you think you don't have that much to talk about. Therapy is the ultimate "me time," and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from it.
posted by Gilbert at 6:05 AM on May 18, 2010

Go, and share all of these concerns with the therapist. Talking about how you're feeling about therapy itself is an important part of the process.

Good luck!
posted by keever at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2010

Just go. Stuff will come up. Once you get comfortable, you'll be amazed at how many things you'll be able to talk about. I felt similar to you for many years. About this time I started seeing a therapist for many of the same reasons you list (relationships/dating/family) and other stuff (professional anxiety being in academia).

It is incredibly helpful to have someone totally unconnected to your life offer objective advice, see the bigger picture and dig deeper to the root of your worries.

it's worth the cost of a single appointment to if nothing else find out what it's all about, no?

You'll need to attend at least a few sessions before making any decision. Nothing dramatic will happen in your first appointment.
posted by special-k at 7:06 AM on May 18, 2010

About this time last year....
posted by special-k at 7:07 AM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: I can't tell you how many people have told me, "i had your card on my desk for a year, before I felt ready to call."There is no rule in therapy about how long you stay or how much you say. While you may feel you have nothing to say, you might be surprised at how much is on your mind, when someone actually seems interested in what you are saying.
posted by ChicagoTherapyConnection at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2010

I would go - you really don't have much to lose. If, after a couple weeks/months, you feel like the expense isn't worth it, you can stop. If you don't go, you'll keep wondering.

And my personal experience is that therapy is absolutely worth it, even when there isn't a crisis or urgent issue.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2010

It's a good idea if and whenever it occurs to you. At best it helps and at worst you're out a few hundred dollars in the pursuit of helping yourself. Oh, I guess there's a chance that 'at worst' you could be brainwashed into a codependent love-triangle with your therapist and their spouse in their basement dungeon where guns and knives are used for their entertainment value, but from the wording of your question that seems somewhat remote.
posted by rhizome at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2010

It's been one of the better gifts I've given myself.

That said, it took me almost a decade (!) to get serious about it. I dabbled a few times before I met someone I could work with and make progress.

YMMV, it is entirely one of those 'happens when you're ready' things.

I would agree with others, that for the cost- the risk is minimal.

Worst Case: You're out a few hours of time and a few hundred bucks.

Best Case: You get life-changing perspective.
posted by mrdaneri at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2010

I went into therapy mostly because I was just tired of things not being good enough, or right enough, of always feeling like I wasn't enough - but I didn't have a specific problem to address. I loved therapy, it was totally worth it.
posted by Locochona at 3:33 PM on May 18, 2010

Think of it kind of like going to see a personal trainer. You don't go only when you want to lose a lot of weight, but when you want to be challenged or encouraged beyond what you could push yourself to do on your own. There is basically no downside to learning more about the way you think or your emotional landscape.
posted by MsMolly at 7:59 PM on May 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies everyone. Sadly, my cheap-ass insurance won't cover mental-health services so it looks like I'm going to have to make my one initial session of therapy count. I really wish I knew how people actually afford to do this sort of thing on an ongoing basis - God knows I won't be able to afford it any more after this week :(

So if anyone knows a CHEAP English-speaking counselor or therapist in or near Seoul, South Korea, please PLEASE send me a MeFi mail...
posted by photo guy at 7:13 PM on May 20, 2010

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