Why Seek Therapy?
Why Seek Therapy?
People seek therapy for very different reasons. While there may be some similarity of symptoms such as feeling depressed no two people will have a similar experience, although the outcome should be the same: you get and feel better. Making the choice to work with a mental health professional may be based upon the following reasons:
Whatever your reason for seeking therapy, you should not feel ashamed that you feel a need for it. Think about it: would you feel shame if you needed help with your blood pressure or other medical concern? Most folks would say “no.” So, why feel ashamed that you want help for your emotional or mental health issues?
First Things: Who will you see and how will you pay?
Once you have made the decision to seek counseling, you will have to decide on whom you want to provide you with this treatment. The Internet is a beautiful thing in that there are many web sites that provide you with a description of the therapist and/or ratings for that therapist very similar to those for doctors. Often a person’s doctor or the child’s school will make the referral and so they may be able to give you some feedback on the clinician’s quality of care.
Another referral source is your managed care company. If yours or your spouse’s job offers health insurance, most plans provide for mental health coverage and maintain a database of qualified therapist. Check your benefits carefully as some plans offer very limited coverage such as only 20 sessions per year that the company will pay for and have higher co-pay while others have no such limits. Another thing to watch for is your deductible. Depending on your plan, every January 1st you may have to meet a deductible before the insurance company will begin paying for mental health services. What this means is that you will need to pay the therapist’s full or adjusted rate until your deductible is met.
If you have public insurance such as Medicaid or certain military benefits, you may be further limited in that you are only allowed to receive treatment in public community mental health agencies. There are however benefits to this as most agencies have a full array of services to offer such as psychiatrists on the premises and more immediate access to crisis intervention services. (Please note that private practitioners also have access to these services, but perhaps with some limits.)
If the therapist you wish to see does not accept your insurance plan, this is not necessarily a prohibiting factor. There are steps you and the clinician can take to either get him or her on your insurance company’s panel or you can agree on other terms. Most things in life are negotiable.
The Treatment Beginnings
So now that you have worked out whom you’ll see and how you’ll pay for therapy, what can you expect? Well, that depends…
Mental health care, like most things in life, is dependent upon what you put into it. Certainly you and the therapist will have to assess for whether or not you’re a good match for one another, but your commitment to treatment is crucial. If you attend therapy sporadically or don’t follow-through with the clinician’s recommendations you’re not likely to get very far.
Let me say a bit more on this good match idea: You and your therapist have a very special type of relationship unlike most others. The therapist hears and learns things about you that most others never hear; hence the reason confidentiality is so critical. You will want to feel confident that your therapist actually cares about you and can help you through your situation. If you feel that you are just not connecting you won’t get out of treatment what you need. It is okay if you feel you need to seek treatment elsewhere.
But a word of caution: Once you begin therapy, you will need to give it time to work. You may also feel somewhat worse before you start to feel better. There is a reason for this. In therapy, it is almost like you are on a cooker at times. The heat is being turned up and the pot is being stirred. You may feel uncomfortable, especially if you are revealing things long kept secret or being challenged to move from a comfort zone. If you quit too soon, you may never achieve your healing. Keep in mind that a good clinician is going to tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.
How Long Treatment Takes and What it Looks Like
What treatment will look like and how long it will be needed varies based upon individual requirements and the therapist’s method. For you, treatment can be completed in as few as 9 or 10 sessions. For some others treatment can span years. Regardless of the length of time, you should be getting better.
You may also want to give consideration to other treatment modalities such as group therapy. Many private therapists and public agencies offer groups that are usually no longer than 9 weeks and that focus on specific issues. There are some opened ended groups available that allow for participants to enter and leave at will. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of such a group.
Another consideration is to seek lay or pastoral counseling through your church, synagogue or mosque. While I am not as familiar with the latter two, within most Christian church settings lay ministers are available to help you via prayer or short term counseling. Often these services are free or require a small donation.
I hope you have found this article beneficial. As I said, the decision to seek mental health care should be made carefully and without shame. The key to a happy and productive life is the ability to feel spiritually, emotionally, and physically well. Often the health of the mind and emotions is important to achieving peace in all other areas of life.