Contrary to what many people think, asking for help is a measure of strength, not weakness. It demonstrates your recognition that you are struggling, and also that you have a capacity for self-reflection.
Summary – Beginnings
- Asking for help is a measure of strength, not weakness
- Things to keep in mind when looking for a therapist
- Evaluation – learning what led you to come in to see me, and in general learning more about your life, and developing a plan for addressing the issues that trouble you
Asking for Help – a Signature of Strength, not Weakness – Many people feel that they should to be able to work through and solve their problems by themselves without outside help; they view talking to a therapist as a sign of falling short, of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth! Recognizing that there are difficulties is an index of strength, not weakness. It means you recognize that when you are struggling with your feelings and relationships, it can be very hard, at times impossible, to maintain your sense of balance and perspective. This recognition signals the capacity for self-reflection and valuing yourself and your relationships, and this is strength. It is true for couples, parents and individuals. Like a scuba diver, you need a “buddy”, a trained companion, to go down with you – someone to lend perspective, guide and promote the safety of the dive. It is the sensible and smart way to explore below the surface.
What to Keep in Mind When Looking for a Therapist
- Word of Mouth – Soliciting recommendations from people you respect and trust (friends, relatives, health professionals) is much better than scanning lists or blind calling.
- Other Sources – Looking at ratings, articles, talks, websites and blogs may help you learn more about a particular therapist.
- Therapies Differ – There is no unified view of the human mind and its struggles. Many approaches and schools of thought exist regarding treatment in mental health care: psychodynamic/psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, family systems, psychopharmacological and many others.
- Therapists Differ – Like all people, therapists’ personalities and personal styles vary tremendously. Your experience with one therapist will never be the same as with another therapist.
- Trust Your Instincts – Feeling that your therapist “gets it”, really understands — this is what matters, and is far more important than a therapist’s gender, age or ethnicity. It helps to interview several therapists to see with whom you connect most comfortably. And if it feels like it might be a match, meet a few more times before you commit to working with that person.
Getting to Know You and Developing a Plan for Addressing Challenges – The first steps in the therapy involve learning about the problems that led to your seeking help for yourself, you and your mate, or your child/teenager. It is vitally important to learn in detail about your feelings, state of mind, and life experiences (family of origin, relationships, education, medical history, etc.). Based on these initial meetings, we together define the goals of the therapy and how best to accomplish those goals. There is never one cookie-cutter approach, because everyone’s life experiences are complex and uniquely their own.