Ten years ago, if I heard a couple was in therapy, I would have assumed they had a weak marriage that must be in trouble. Now when I hear of couples who have been to therapy, I look at them with newfound respect and admiration, assuming their marriage is likely healthier than many of their married peers. And this is why I want to make the case that you (yes, you) might want to consider therapy.
Why, you ask?
Because I’ve been to therapy now, and it has changed not just my marriage, but my life. I now experience a peace and freedom I never knew before, and I absolutely have therapy to thank!
Six years ago, after giving birth to my daughter, I experienced the onset of an autoimmune disease that affects my skin, but at the time could have been a presentation of something internal and much more serious. That, coupled with my first experience of post-partum anxiety, landed me in a doctor’s office with a chronic anxiety diagnosis. A few years later I was forced to confront a miscarriage while simultaneously going through an incredibly stressful time in my personal life. I was trapped in situations I felt powerless to change. It seemed like I had given it my all, and I still couldn’t find a way out.
At my very first appointment, my world was rocked.
The psychologist who sat across from me knew things I did not know! He gave me new eyes, helping me see things in a new way. I thought if I just tried hard enough time after time, I would finally learn how to get it right by myself, but now I know this would never have happened. I needed a professional to guide the way.
I can’t believe I spent so much time making excuses and talking myself out of it, or how low I had to go before I was finally compelled to keep my appointment.
Excuse #1: Therapy is for really sick people/marriages.
Obviously, admitting my life could be helped by therapy dismantled some pride that had been in place for years. I thought if I was smart enough and spiritual enough, I’d eventually figure it out on my own (with God’s help of course). Going to couple’s therapy meant not just one person had to set aside her pride (ahem) – instead, we both did. Both of us had the perspective that no one else could really tell us anything we didn’t already know, so why even attempt it (i.e. pay for it)?
Of course, we both agree now that we couldn’t have been more wrong. Therapy was a game-changer for us.
You know those marital ruts you find yourself in that you truly never think you’ll be able to master? We had those. Thanks to therapy (and open hearts that were willing to receive guidance), we don’t anymore. The things we never thought would change? They changed. It turns out therapy is for healthy people. Some of my favorite counseling sessions have been when I feel like my life and marriage are strong – and I go anyway. Never underestimate the power of your next session! Even if…
Excuse #2: You already have wise people in your life.
Another excuse I consistently made was that my parents are incredibly loving and extra-ordinary. My extended family members are a wealth of wisdom. My friends are some of the most inspiring people I know. I read books like crazy. And yet – please hear me – all of these things are wonderful blessings and they serve incredible purposes, but they are not the same as professional therapy. No matter how much I’ve benefited from the wise people in my life, my breakthrough finally came when I saw a professional – and not before. I think this is what surprised me most. Because…
Excuse #3: I’ve been disappointed by therapists in the past.
If you’ve had a bad experience, I’m sympathetic. I have, too. But that doesn’t mean you should write all therapists off forever. I met with a counselor in college who did not particularly help me. I saw a psychiatrist during my most-anxious post-partum season who also left barely an impression at all. I did not keep going to these therapists once I realized I was not being transformed by my time with them. I didn’t feel like it was worth my time or my money. However, I’m so glad I didn’t give up completely! Now my life will never be the same.
Excuse #4 : Therapy is too expensive (or, not worth the money).
This might have been my favorite excuse. I assumed my health insurance wouldn’t cover it. After all, isn’t therapy more of a luxury than a need?
Filled with doubt and trepidation, I called the mental health number on the back of my insurance card to find out what exactly would be covered. This simple phone call taught me I would pay all of $25 for each session. I regularly drop this much on coffee in a month! There are also many therapists who offer sliding scales for low-income patients or patients without insurance, so don’t assume therapy is out of reach for financial reasons.
To those of you who find yourselves in the same pit I, myself, was in – this is for you. It’s also for your children; not only will they receive a healthier mother as a result, they will be less afraid of therapy in the future, feeling free to seek out every tool possible for their “toolboxes” when life’s challenges come their way. Perhaps it’s time to stop making excuses and give therapy a try. It might just be the one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!