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Should I do psychological therapy…or not?

Here is a common scenario lot of people have come across with as they look for psychological therapy:

“You may have just experienced some form of mental health crisis and realize you need professional support. For the first time you look for psychological therapy or support. You are not sure where you are heading to. When engaging with the practitioner, your mind fluctuates. On one hand, you need to be told about the professional guidance and advice on solving your life problem. On the other hand, the emotional need is washed away by the practical reality – you need to pay a fortune for therapy; you also realize therapy is not a problem solver, rather you need to invest more of your personal time and mental effort in order to make therapy work. You wonder if the financial pay-out is worth it at all.”

It is important you feel you are confident and hold a sense of control when making the decision to attend therapy. The key issue here is that many people can’t get a clear mind of what type of support they can get, or at least receive different options or knowledge points to make the best decision for them themselves. The most key point is ‘they haven’t got the security that they know they are doing the RIGHT THING to help themselves.’

Starting therapy well is the first yet also one of the most crucial steps towards having a good recovery, but many clients struggle in this stage without the practitioner’s input. Here I will share some myths about attending therapy and respond by providing some useful points for clients (you) to consider before you decide on whether/or not to start therapy.

Myth 1: “Practitioners/psychologists are all biased professionals who always advocate ‘therapy is the best support.’ They must always convince me to take part in therapy, as long as I pay.”

Answer 1: Therapy brings a positive influence in people’s lives, but it is also an optional choice.

As a practitioner, I say that therapy is not for everyone. I absolutely agree that therapy benefits everyone, but there are also many factors which affect your ability to benefit from it – e.g. the right therapist, budget, the own motivation. Below I continue to elaborate how these factors affect your suitability to receive therapy support.

Myth 2: I will know what to do after having a session with the practitioner. She/he will tell me what the problem is and how to fix it.

Answer 2: It is normal you still feel confused and a lack of progress after the first few sessions.

Don’t be disheartened if you still feel confused or lost after starting therapy. Like cooking, we may hold a standardized recipe – a chef’s successful work. However at the beginning we may not even manage the basic cooking well. The recipe is not the problem. It is just that we are not yet equipped with the skills or experiences to do it, let alone feeling confident to have our say about what the ‘best way of cooking is’. It takes time before we enhance our skills and experience. Then we begin to experiment changing or adding new spices or ingredients. Some changes work, some don’t. But gradually we develop our own best recipe.

Myth 3: Practitioners are professional in their work. I may not be comfortable with my working practitioner so far but I will see her/him anyways and see how things go.

Answer 3: You have the right to find a good therapist just for you.

You browse the different advertisements and directory sites. You come across with hundreds of practitioners. Different people give out different pricing. The practitioner is indeed an important key. She/he has the right practice experiences to work with you collaboratively to bring out your growth. Find the practitioners who have work experiences on dealing with your issues (I will post in the future on more tips on how to find the right therapist/practitioner).

Myth 4: This practitioner charges a lot. I am not sure how long this therapy will last but I will just pay a few sessions first. It will work out later.

Answer 4: You do need to consider your budget for your overall treatment. You can always ask your practitioner regarding your progress and how you afford your sessions.

How long a therapy lasts depends on the nature of your issues. Short term therapies may last for 6-12 sessions and may be better supported by structured or solution focused therapies. Long term therapies focus on the more deep-rooted issues or the more severe mental health challenges, or difficulties and trauma caused by the severe life adversities. This can last up to 1-3 years.

Therefore you may have a good think about how much you pay monthly for your practitioner. Don’t forget that you can explore with the practitioner any discount option if you commit to at least a certain length of therapy.

Myth 5: I need to find the perfect practitioner for myself. Then I should stick with that person and have no further problems.

Answer 5: Utilize the free consultation opportunities for you to learn more about the offering therapy and the practitioner.

If you look for therapy for the first time, don’t feel obligated to ‘stick with’ the first therapist you pick. Certainly you could go for that therapist if you feel right with her/him, but if not, it is completely reasonable you go to find another therapist/practitioner. Many practitioners in fact offer free 15-20 minutes of consultation. Such short conversation will already allow you to get a sense of the practitioner’s style and personality.

Also take some time to utilize the free consultation sessions for you to be familiarized with the idea of therapy. After a few conversations, you can pick the one you feel you can mostly find comfortable to work with.

In the next article, I will continue to share more tips which will help you utilize the most out of therapy.


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