More Reasons Why People Avoid Therapy – Part 2
- “My friends can help me with this difficulty. How can talking to a stranger be helpful?”
Friends can indeed often be helpful, especially if the friend is capable of genuine empathy and support, and is creative at problem solving as well. But a friendship is a mutually caring relationship that takes into account the needs of both people. A therapy relationship is focused on the client’s needs, issues, and concerns. A therapist is trained, experienced, and focused to be of help to you in ways that a friend is not; that is what makes the experience genuinely helpful.
- “What good is just talking?”
Some talking initially can provide relief: not feeling so alone, not feeling misunderstood or not cared about, relieving the pressure built up from holding feelings and worries within for some period of time. With some continued conversation in this way, with the therapist doing a lot of careful – and caring – listening at first, the client can begin to feel safe in discussing their concerns, to understand the situation, the relationships involved and him/herself in new ways. Seeing things in new ways allows for new possibilities and choices, previously not thought of at all, or not thought of as possible. Often the client comes to new possibilities on their own as they progress, or the therapist may make a timely suggestion as well. “Just talking” leads to much more than just talking.
- “If I talk about these issues, I’m being disloyal to my family or my partner.”
While the therapist is focused of course on helping the client as an individual, the therapist is also respectful of the client’s relationships and wants to help those relationships as well. Well-trained and experienced therapists are respectful and curious about how each individual, relationship, or family is unique, without sweeping generalizations about what’s right or wrong. Cultural questions and differences are treated with respect and curiosity as well, so that demands about living in some “mainstream” kind of way are not expressed or enforced. Confidentiality, with the few limits noted above, insure that family members or partners are not betrayed.
- “Talking about my problems and upsetting emotions will make them worse. I’ll fall apart.”
Yes, there might indeed be some powerful emotions at times in therapy, which might seem difficult to tolerate or get through. But, with support, caring, and clarity from a skilled therapist, these “choppy seas” can be navigated with more resilience and “ability to float” than clients expect. Some emotional intensity is often part of gaining relief, and certainly part of developing a new and deeper understanding, which is what creates new possibilities.
- “Since my employer provides insurance, they’ll have access to this private information.”
Not at all. Your private information is protected by laws and ethical guidelines that protect your privacy. Neither insurance companies, nor the therapist, can share this information with an employer unless you give formal, written consent.
If any of these concerns are part of your reluctance to start therapy, then that is the place to start: express your concerns ASAP, even first thing in the first session. That will allow the therapist to acknowledge your uneasiness, begin to address it, and help you find relief from the very outset. An experienced therapist will be at ease about this and facilitate your moving forward.
Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310 539-2772, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.