There are many different reasons why people might come into therapy, and oftentimes what clients find is that as the therapy progresses, that different, more pressing or significant reasons than that which originally brought them, start toemerge. The human psyche is incredible, and complex. Every person is different. And as the work gets going , sometimes it can seem like an onion, when one layer is peeled off, another one is there underneath.
Recently, a client asked me if their problems were significant enough for therapy, which has inspired me to write this post.Because I think it is worth knowing, that if you have thought about therapy, then the chances are, that you would benefit from it. It may be a question of whether you are able to allow yourself to receive help. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Some people may come for help with something unexpected that has happened in their lives, and after 8-16 sessions, they are restored and able to carry on with their well functioning and fulfilling lives.
Sometimes it is more straight forward for people who come into therapy knowing they need help. Perhaps they have experienced abuse growing up, or a chaotic or unpredictable environment as a child, or were neglected by parents struggling with their own addictions or mental health issues. Or perhaps a traumatic event happened and it became clear that there was post traumatic symptoms that therapy could help with. They are aware of their struggles, and are willing to give therapy a go, and are have hope that it will help.
Other people reach out to a therapist when things have hit crisis point. Perhaps a partner has threatened to leave them, or their experience of the pandemic has been difficult to manage. It could be a health condition diagnosis, a divorce, or a life transition such as children leaving home.
With these clients, they know they are struggling with this one thing. And sometimes, this is right, once they have sought help adjusting to their new reality, the work is done and they no longer need therapy. For others, once the crisis or trauma has been worked through in therapy and begun to be integrated within their psyche, other issues emerge that may not have been known about before. Then, it becomes like the onion: there is more work that can be done, if the client chooses to do so.
It is not unusual to be unsure about whether therapy could help you. Sometimes, we are so used to looking after everyone else: family, friends, colleagues- that we don’t give much thought to what we ourselves might need. We might be so busy that we don’t have time to stop and think, or we may not know the depth of our unhappiness, if it is all we have ever known. It may be that things just don’t feel right or good or satisfying in life, for no apparent reason, often when everything on the outside seems good. You may have everything you need and want materially, and yet still, are not happy. It may be that you grew up in an environment where emotional health was not something to be taken seriously or even thought about, with feelings being dismissed. You may feel like a burden, telling yourself there are people worse off.
If you have thought about therapy, then chances are you would benefit from it. Sometimes it is the unconscious part of us that has a drive towards healing that reaches out to a therapist, and then the self-sabotaging part gets in the way and says something like ‘don’t be stupid, you don’t need therapy’.
Sometimes it’s a repeating pattern that is an indicator that something needs to be addressed in therapy, such as relationships always breaking down, or an inability to commit to a job or place. The pattern can seem out of your control and cause a lot of pain and heartache. Maybe, you’ve never had an experience of your emotional struggles being taken seriously, so therapy seems indulgent. Or it may be that there is no ‘big T trauma’ in your history, and you think ‘are things really that bad?’
In my professional opinion, suffering is suffering. Pain is pain. Unhappiness is unhappiness. There is no measure on whether these feelings are valid, if they are your experience, then if you want it, you deserve help.
Unfortunately, we cannot put right what has happened in the past. We cannot control the people around us, or what happens in the world. But we do have a choice. We can choose how we respond in our minds and in our behaviour. This may come across as unsympathetic, or downright impossible. We feel powerless, out of control, at the mercy of a cruel world. There is truth in this – we can’t control the world around us: a bullying culture at work, a recession or redundancy, or a dysfunctional family. But we can choose how we react to these things. By understanding the meaning behind our beliefs and feelings. We can choose what meaning we make of things. And we can choose whether to make use of our capacities: to make use of what we do have. Therapy can help you to understand the meaning behind your motivations, behaviours and beliefs. It can help you to have a choice.
If you are struggling, and unsure about whether therapy may be of help, please reach out to me. I would be happy to talk with you about how I can support you. I'm seeing clients face-to-face in Raynes Park, and globally online. Simply call me on 07710 819 485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.