If you’re someone who has ever thought, or asked the question “what’s the point of therapy,” you are absolutely not alone. Wondering about the purpose or the effectiveness of therapy is very common especially in a society where talking about therapy and mental health is still stigmatized. I, a counselor in training, have even asked that question before. And while you could ask ten different people and get ten different answers as to what the point of therapy is, I figured I’d share the insights I have come to regarding the purposes of therapy.
- Person-ing is hard. While there is an abundance of self-help books out there, there is no instruction manual for life. So, with being a person we all experience ups and downs and they can be hard to figure out. And while going to therapy is not a quick fix to all your problems, it can help you explore what you value and want and how you can achieve those things.
- Emotional education is not a part of our education system. While we learn math, science, reading, English, and more, we do not have a class on emotions. It is a core part of who we are as humans and yet it tends to be a figure it out as you go along process. And unfortunately, many of the messages we receive from society about emotions can be very damaging (i.e. men can only feel anger, women are too emotional). Going to therapy can help you learn about emotions, their purposes, and how you can work with them rather than against them.
- Confidentiality is not a guarantee in regular life. Friends are great, but therapists are ethically bound to keep the things you say in private. Even if there is a situation where your therapist has to break confidentiality it is to keep people safe and they do not reveal more information than absolutely necessary. Also, your therapist is not a part of your social circle and thus can approach things in a less biased way than a friend would.
So in terms of reasons to go to a therapist, it can be anything. One of the more common reasons I hear in terms of arguing against going to therapy is “talk won’t change anything.” And while it is true, your therapist cannot change your situation for you, they can still help you adjust to it. A therapist is there to support you and to help you explore things that are important to you. It’s like you’re walking around in the dark and the therapist is there with you holding a flashlight. You get to choose where to go, but they will be there with you helping along the way.
Another common barrier to going to therapy is money. It’s too expensive. Therapy can be very expensive, but there are also affordable ways to get therapy. There are clinicians in our practice who accept Cigna insurance, and there are other practices that accept other insurance. Additionally, at Works Counseling, there are intern therapists who are able to offer sessions for $40. An intern therapist is just someone who is in the process of training to become a counselor and is in school and under supervision but can see clients. If a provider you are looking at does not accept insurance, you can also always ask if they have a sliding scale. Many clinicians will offer sliding scale spots which will lower their rate based on your income.
Finally, another big barrier with individuals seeking counseling is a previous negative experience in counseling. If that describes you, let me just say, I am so sorry you had that experience. Seeking out therapy can be scary and a big decision, but there are so many therapists out there. If you do have a bad experience with one, or even if it’s not a bad experience and you just don’t vibe with them, you do not have to continue seeing them. You are in charge of your therapy