Do you know why therapy is good for you?


Therapy has made me a better person.  How do I know that?  Because I just know it.  And I, like you, have no one else to prove that to than yourself.  My first experience with therapy happened in my first year of college, going through some major transitional 'stuff' following leaving home. 

Then in graduate school when I - the social work student - was going through a very emotionally painful time of life: the loss of my first love - I 'leaned on' therapy.

Then, just a few years back, in my early 50's, I again found myself in the therapist's chair, this time for overwhelming life stress due to self employment.  The complex stresses of running my own business led to painful headaches.

I would return to therapy again, even if I didn't have to, but wanted to, to again learn something useful to help myself become happier or in any way more successful.  In fact, in my own life around me, it's been sad for me to see certain relationships become too conflictual, estranged or non-existent due to people's unwillingness to ask for help.

For writing this post, I searched a bit online to find some information on people's experiences with therapists.  I was taken aback by some of the negativity out there, some of it written by therapists themselves.  Maybe they think they are helping, but some of them are actually shooting themselves in the foot, criticizing other therapists.

That won't be me.  Yes, maybe I've heard about bad therapy.  But I figure: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Yes, there is therapy out there that 'could be better'.  There is even a small percentage of therapists who are doing things totally against the ethics of their professions: dating clients, fraudulently billing, etc. And yes, each therapist could always 'do better' than they are doing.  

It's also been my experience that you can 'manage' a therapist too closely - like I've seen some employers do - to the point you interfere in the therapeutic process, much like managed care used to do.  Not good...for example, if you are so worried about writing down 'good sounding goals' in your notes that you stress the therapist to the point they quit, that's not right, as the Mint Mobile commercial jokes.

BOTTOM LINE:  you have to get to therapy first to even find out if it is 'good' for you.  Most therapists do a decent job, if you, the client are willing to engage with them and their style.  Most therapists are at least minimally credential checked, so you know they are really licensed and don't have a negative practice history.  All of us report to our boards of practice, we are required to take continuing education to re-license, etc.

No doubt some therapists might criticize the way I 'do' therapy.  But I've cultivated how I 'do' therapy over 30 years of practice and experience.  I don't think many should judge me for the judgments I'm making, as long as I am following my code of ethics.

So I found a couple of articles I thought put the potential experience of therapy you could have in a fun and positive light.  I too want you to realize I am funny, yet totally serious about therapy.  Don't let your 'mid brain' (that is your lizard brain) control your higher thought centers.  Don't let fear, or pride or whatever stand in the way of what is best for you.

Here they are:

1.  Pure fun - 29 Things No One Ever Tells You About Being in Therapy: Starting with it's the best/worst thing ever.

2.  Lori Gottlieb, what does therapy look like, from the therapist's perspective.  Look Lori up, her work is quite interesting, how as a former writer she decided to return to school and become a therapist.  I love how she can be 'funny yet serious' about her work. She has now found a way to weave together her role as therapist with her natural talent for writing in her new book 'Maybe You Should Talk to Someone'.