Do I really need to come to therapy though? Can’t I just talk to a friend, etc?
Our friends and family and other loved ones are a vital part of our lives and well-being. It is a reasonable thought therefore to wonder whether it isn’t sufficient to turn to them when things in our life become overwhelming.
So what can a therapist help you figure out? Life sometimes gets overwhelming and we need a place and space within which to thrash out our feelings and begin to understand: 1) what exactly those feelings are, 2) what the factor causing the feelings are; 3) how much of these feelings emanate from our past and how much is being provoked or triggered by our present situation, 4) which of the factors that are causing our feelings are the primary causes and which are more periphery.
In addition to the above, we might feel that there is something wrong in our lives, or perhaps within us, and we need to understand and get to the bottom of what it is. Perhaps everything seems to be going well in your life but you cannot shake a nagging feeling of unhappiness. This is causing immense feelings of guilt and shame that you are “not being grateful” for all you have. Or perhaps you have a sense of what is causing your lack of happiness but you feel they are “champagne problems” as was said once by one of my clients. That is, that your unhappy feelings are not justified given the “small” or “silly” issue that is causing it and that you just need to “get over yourself”.
Perhaps however there are factors present in your life that are glaringly and obviously the cause (e.g. an abusive partner, past traumatic events, etc) and you are needing help with managing the impact of these things on you and your life. You might also be ready but in need of support to make the changes that will stop these things from hurting you.
Thrashing out and making sense of all of these feelings and factors require a particular kind of relationship setting in which to understand and emotionally process… No matter how much someone loves or care for you, the distance, objectivity and professional knowledge and expertise will unfortunately not be part of what they can offer. I have often had clients tell me that while their friends and family are very supportive, they feel they are not able to provide them with the objective perspectives needed to tackle the issues at hand.
In addition, as a psychologist I am specifically trained to gain an understanding of clients’ inner emotional world and gain a sense of what is lying within your less conscious emotional and psychological processes that is hindering your ability to gain more of what it is you are needing in your life.
Having said all that I have, there is a definite and vital role to be played by all the sources of support in our lives – be it spiritual avenues, through friends and family, though a rewarding exercise programme or through our careers. These are indispensable to our well-being. These do however also unfortunately have a limit on how they can help us when things feel too much and overwhelming or impossible.
At any given time, you are one step away from a different life. Consider giving therapy a try. What do you have to lose?