Should You See a Therapist?
Many people at some point in their lives have asked themselves whether they should see a therapist. If you are wondering yourself, questions you may have include:
- Isn’t therapy only for people with mental illness? If so, wouldn’t I be taking up space and resources that can better serve others?
- What do you even do in therapy?
- How expensive is therapy? Is it covered by insurance?
- What’s the difference between a psychologist and a counselor?
Let’s take a deeper look at these questions.
Is therapy only for the mentally ill?
Ask yourself: do you only see your family doctor when you’re sick?
Chances are, no. Most of the time, we see our doctors because we’re sick. But we also see them for routine screenings, for preventive care, and to discuss health. Often, we aren’t certain what’s going on in our bodies, so we seek professional advice to see if there is something wrong.
The same can be said about therapy. While you may not have a serious mental disorder, putting off seeing a therapist is comparable to putting off seeing your doctor about a pain in your foot. Over time, foot pain can get worse. So can your psychological well-being.
Therapy allows you to discuss your life challenges with someone who is impartial to the situation and experienced in helping people. In most places, therapists are also held to strict confidentiality laws.
As a reference, here is a list of symptoms that can indicate someone may benefit from therapy.
Remember, just because you don’t have a formally diagnosed mental illness doesn’t mean your mental health shouldn’t be prioritized.
What does therapy even entail?
Knowing exactly what happens in a therapy session can help your decision.
There are many stereotypes about therapy. You may imagine lying on a couch and telling someone about your childhood while they scribble on a clipboard.
That may have been true some generations ago, but modern therapies are a lot more structured and require more active participation from the client. You may be assigned at-home exercises and homework.
Evidence-based therapies based on modern scientific research, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), don’t care much for a client’s past. Rather, CBT focuses on solving problems and challenging negative beliefs in the here and now.
It may be worthy to note that therapy can be difficult at times. You may be challenged to confront things you’d rather avoid.
Is therapy expensive?
It’s true that therapy can get expensive. According to Good Therapy, the general cost range is anywhere from $65 per hour to $250 per hour. The Affordable Care Act mandates most insurance plans to include mental health coverage, but even then, insurance is unlikely to cover all the costs.
With a little hunting, you may be able to find lower-cost alternatives! Community health centers, which are often designed to help low-income patients, may offer free services or sliding-scale fees, as may some therapists. Educational institutions may also offer cheaper services provided by students in training.
Who should I see?
The different types of mental health professionals can sure seem intimidating. Here’s a rough guide on what job titles mean:
- Clinical psychologists typically hold doctoral degrees in psychology, have real-life work experience, and can make diagnoses and conduct therapy.
- Clinical social workers have a Master’s degree in social work, can make diagnoses, and provide counseling. Social workers are usually found in hospitals, managing cases and advocating for patients.
- Licensed professional counselors also have a Master’s degree in psychology, can make diagnoses, and conduct counseling.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in treating mental illness. Unlike the other professionals, they are qualified to prescribe medicine.
- Pastoral counselors may be a good choice for religious folks who prefer counseling based on tenets of their belief system.
Your therapy fees may depend on your therapist’s qualifications and experience.
When Therapy Isn’t Enough
Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, psychotherapy isn’t enough to relieve you of your symptoms.
Of course, this may just be due to a bad fit between you and your therapist. There is no shame in switching therapists if you don’t click with your current one.
However, if you’ve gone to multiple people for help and don’t see any symptom relief, you may need further medical attention. Talk to your doctor, who may be able to refer you to a psychiatrist, who is qualified to prescribe medication.
A Word about Medication…
Sometimes, medication can be used in conjunction with therapy for optimal results. Some people find medication makes challenging therapy sessions easier.
Medication may also be cheaper, more accessible, and less time-consuming than talk therapy. You can even order popular antidepressants like PROZAC® online through an international or Canadian pharmacy referral service. These services connect patients to licensed pharmacies in countries where price regulations cause drugs to be much cheaper.
Remember: seeking treatment – whether it’s therapy, medication, or both – is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Proactively seeking help means you are taking responsibility for your health and willing to deal with challenges in a mature and responsible way.