When you find joy and peace in life where it had previously alluded you, you’ll discover that your investment into therapy may have been the best investment you’ve ever made.
Every living person will face suffering. It doesn’t matter if you see some who suffer more than you and others who suffer less, your suffering is valid. Grief, anxiety about the future, break-ups, trauma, couples counseling, unwinding wounds from our childhood: this list of suffering goes on and on. Despite the universality of these feelings, when you’re personally experiencing them, you may feel completely isolated, as though there is no way these feelings could ever fade into to lighter days.
Therapy exists to help navigate through these feelings, better equipping you to manage future suffering in your life. Therapy can be a path to strengthen your resolve; it’s not a dirty word.
1. Breaking the Stigma
If you catch strep throat or have a chronic illness like migraines, there’s no societal stigma when you visit your doctor and take medications to bring you healing. When you’re sick, your community rallies around you with get well cards, employer-paid sick leave and anonymous deliveries of chicken soup to your doorstep.
However, if a grief-inducing incident happens and you find yourself weighed down with a temporary depression or you have a longer-term diagnosis like bipolar disorder, your pain lives more primarily in your psyche, instead of in your physical body. Where are the get-well cards if you receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder?
Why are illnesses of the body met with compassion, while illnesses of the psyche are often met with shame and stigma?
Acknowledging that a stigma exists around mental illness can help to empower change in this arena. Thankfully great organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms and the National Alliance on Mental Illness have gained national recognition in helping to break this stigma down.
2. Choosing the Right Therapist
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Your therapist will learn very intimate details about your life. It’s important that you feel comfortable with them holding your most vulnerable thoughts with care.
You can ask people like your friends, mentor or general doctor for recommendations. You can also explore therapists’ websites and online directories.
Do you want someone who specializes in an issue you’re facing? Do you feel safer talking to a certain gender? Do you want your religion brought into sessions? Do you specifically need a psychiatrist who can manage prescriptions? Does group therapy appeal to you? Do you want someone who has a certain degree? Is it important to meet on weekends or evenings?
However you find a therapist, feel free to vet them to make sure they’re a good fit for your needs. When you call to schedule your first appointment, ask about their approach to counseling to see if their philosophies align with yours. Meeting the first time will be the best way to learn if you have a good connection. If it’s not a great fit, keep looking. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to thoughtfully find the right person to trust in this role.
3. Affordable Therapy
Movies often depict therapy as a luxury for the wealthy. However, counseling is for all people of all financial means. There are many different forms of therapy out there, and much work has been done to ensure that those who most need therapy can affordably access it.
- Insurance—Many insurance plans offer therapy coverage. Typically, your co-pay mirrors that of a general doctor visit and the insurance company will cover the rest.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)—Many employers offer employee assistance programs allowing you to visit a therapist for absolutely no charge. You should expect about 3-6 fully covered visits; this may be enough to help you through a short season when you need support. Alternatively, you may maximize your free visits first with EAP coverage before moving on to co-pay insurance coverage.
- University Programs—Local universities training mental health professionals may offer counseling centers to the public where a student (under the supervision of a licensed therapist) can meet with you for about the cost of an insurance co-pay rate. Some universities even offer a certain number of free sessions per semester to students in distress.
- Apps—Revolutionizing the industry, apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp connect you virtually with a therapist for about $32-$35 a week.
Lastly, feel free to have a honest conversation with your counselor if you feel you’re benefiting from their support, but are struggling with the expenses. They may be able to work with you to make their services more affordable.
We all sometimes need help facing the darkness and pain in life. There’s absolutely no shame in moving towards wellness and increasing your strength to face suffering. When you find joy and peace in life where it had previously alluded you, you’ll discover that your investment into therapy may have been the best investment you’ve ever made.
If you or someone you know needs support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.