Updated: Jan 30
Whether you’ve been to therapy in the past, know someone who goes to therapy, or scrolled through any social media newsfeed, most of us have some idea about what therapy is. Over the past few years (especially living through a pandemic), the therapy buzz has increased with all the added stressors of life as we have all had to navigate towards this new form of normalcy after being isolated for nearly two years. For some, the stress of life, the unknown, and isolation we had no control over, brought on awareness of needing additional support outside of friends and loved ones. For others, we are walking around with unresolved traumas, overworked, underpaid, lack of resources, and family responsibilities (just to name a few). We often have no idea how to manage it all, where to reach out for help, or how to navigate big emotions or unmet needs. Sometimes certain events, situations, or relationships can lead us into an intensity of symptoms (maybe new or old). We may have no understanding of why or how we got to where we are today, that we seek out therapy because we’ve heard it’s supposed to help “fix” us. So, what is therapy exactly? How do we know if we need it? Does it really work? Why are there so many different answers when we google search this? Don’t fret…. I’ll help break it down in simple and easy ways to get a better understanding.
Therapy in Simple Human Terms
The American Psychiatric Association says that psychotherapy or talk therapy is used to help people dealing with various mental health and emotional issues. The overall goal is to help people reduce (or if you are lucky get rid of all together) symptoms and behaviors so that we can improve our abilities to cope with life stress, feel better (emotionally/physically) and have better relationships in our lives. A bonus to working with a trained professional (and not your family, friends, etc.) is being comfortable (or learning how to be comfortable) sharing all the things we don’t often tell others. Therapy is confidential (unless you plan to harm yourself or others), so we can share literally anything (no topic is off limits) with a therapist and no one will ever know (unless this is a part of something we want to work on sharing). This makes it a safe space to let it all hang out without worrying about judgement or miscommunications. We finally get to feel seen, heard, and validated. This is how we can begin to navigate what we need and how to get there (bring on the emotional vulnerability and the confidence to handle it). First time Clients (or people who come back to therapy after a break) can find relief and support in ways they may have never had before.
A Quick Breakdown of Therapy Sessions
· For individuals, couples, families, or groups
· Cost: varies. If you have insurance your copay may be the most affordable option. If you don’t have insurance or if you find your perfect therapist who isn’t covered by insurance, you will likely pay more out of pocket. Depending on your financial needs, therapy can feel unattainable (there are many different types of resources or sliding scale options for lower payment, which many therapists can offer).
· Typical length is 50 minutes (this can vary depending on needs/therapists)
· Short-term (few sessions) for immediate issues) or long-term (for the more complex and heavy stuff)
· A place to learn more about ourselves, heal, and find ways to navigate coping with stress, and communicating to better love ourselves and improve our relationships in our lives
What about Psychotherapy and Medication?
Depending on the needs of the Client, American Psychiatric Association notes that it can be helpful to combine both medication and talk therapy. For others, talk therapy is most appropriate.
Does Every Therapist Do the Same Thing?
Nope! Each Therapist has unique training and experience in using different styles of therapy interventions. Finding a therapist who knows how to help support you is key in getting the most out of your session. Check out Psychology Today, they have an extensive list which explains the difference between therapy interventions, and how to use them (too much to fit on this post, but definitely something to explore if you are looking for something specific). The most important piece is to find the right therapist that you can vibe with and feel connected to (don’t be afraid to shop around until you find your perfect match). Therapists want to help you be successful and if you aren’t feeling a good fit, please fire your therapist (it’s ok we therapists understand we aren’t perfect for everyone, no hard feelings if you leave).
What’s the Verdict? Does it Really Work?
It absolutely can (however, I am a therapist, so I do add my own bias to this answer), but it doesn’t mean that it will for everyone. Therapy is no guarantee of a quick “fix.” However, a good therapist can help you navigate this without feeling defeated (we are here for the long haul). Dianne Grande shares that psychotherapy has some positive results and lasting impacts on overall well-being and lasting outcomes. Multiples studies indicated around 75% of people who go to therapy have a positive experience (#therapyforthewin).
So What Should We Do with This Info?
If after reading through this, it sounds like something you want to explore more there are many ways to find a therapist near you (both in-person or online). Here are a few online locators for therapists (these are not all therapists available; you may have to google search or call your insurance company):