Dear Therapist: Why Should I Bother With Therapy?

Dear Therapist: Why Should I Bother With Therapy?

Someone recently asked me about why I chose to start therapy when I have a ton of friends willing to listen to my every complaint, and tell me exactly what I want to hear.

– by Anonymous Talkspace User 

When I explained that therapy is not so much about what I want to hear, but about what I need to hear to resolve my problems and move forward, the person blankly stared back  – the conversation had abruptly ended. I think people have a very hard time understanding what therapy is, and why anyone would bother going through with it.

Since I’ve never tried traditional therapy, I didn’t really know what to expect when I first started either. But it turns out that having a knowledgeable mental health professional, who knows exactly how and when to ask the right questions, can get me to think about things in ways I previously haven’t. This was a pleasant surprise.

Although I believe that I know myself very well, I acknowledge that many of my feelings seem too big to handle, or too small to pay attention to. I also didn’t know if I had “the right” to feel some of them to begin with – and that alone can drive anyone completely crazy. What I needed, I think, was validation; an objective confirmation that there were reasons for my emotions, with direct causes and specific roots. Now, I get it through therapy.

I’ve discovered that many of my current problems are the same problems I’ve had for a very long time. True, they evolved over the last few decades, much like I did, but they never went away. They simply shifted form. And because of that, I am not sure if I’ve ever experienced happiness – definitely moments of joy and instances of overwhelming excitement, but no lasting contentment, peace, or inner love. This felt lonely and entirely unpleasant. It still does, but it’s getting a little better.

The therapist, true to form, is asking me about my life. I am revealing as much as I can, as often as I can. But not at night – the therapeutic process is so involved that I have trouble sleeping afterwards. Still, I am surprised by how much I’ve bottled up inside me, and even more surprised by how aggressively its coming to the surface. The lid’s been open and the worms have been unleashed. My therapist, however, seems completely unfazed by all this, and I am relieved. No longer feeling “raw and exposed“, I am beginning to feel accepted.

This acceptance, however, is currently limited to my therapist as well as my significant other. My family, on the other hand, is divided about my decision. Some individuals think that my seeking therapy is long overdue and I should have started it much earlier. Others believe it to be an absolutely useless and fruitless endeavor. Everyone asks me if I’ve been prescribed medication. The answer is I haven’t, and I probably won’t. Although I am pretty sure if it’s deemed necessary, I will be informed.

What therapy has taught me so far is that while the opinions of others matter, they are, after all, opinions. To date, I have shared a lot of what’s on my mind and in my heart.

And even thought it’s only been a few weeks since I started therapy, I am beginning to feel its impact – I am beginning to feel hopeful.

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