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Supportive Friend

About Therapy

Why therapy?

The reasons for hiring a professional therapist are as broad as the human experience. You may be distressed by drama at work, at home, with family, by excessive caretaking responsibilities, life disruption by health issues, personal losses and grief, by betrayal, or maltreatment (to name a few), by any combination thereof, or by nothing visible at all. What such experiences have in common is the way your nervous system becomes compromised and overwhelmed. As our nerves overload, the felt stress only compounds, while our mental capacity to adapt rapidly collapses and further amplifies the mess.

Our cultural lens commonly interprets overwhelm to be a result of weakness or lack of effort. The reality is more complex. Ironically, attempts to redouble "effort" or "strength" are often actually self-defeating, if not the cause of the distress. A psychotherapist specializes in professional grade guidance to help you untangle your confusion and frustration without overstepping or making decisions for you. Good therapy will strengthen your own capability.

Am I a candidate for therapy?

You might hear yourself saying such things as, "I don't feel like myself", "This is not who I am", "I should be able to do better than this", "This did not use to be difficult", "I am getting in my own way."
One good indication you need help is when the harder you try, the worse things become. Or you can no longer summon the energy to do something you know you need. This commonly happens because the ways you learned to cope are very deeply practiced and so automatic they happen before you even notice. Plus, it is human nature that the more stress we are under, the less we can tolerate, let alone implement, change.

Why your usual friends may not be enough.

Some of your life may be intense in a way you can not easily share with your friends or even your family. Maybe you have tried talking to them, only to find those formerly close to you respond only superficially and/or withdraw. The weightiest matters often discomfort others, so they either create distance, judgement, or try to solve your problems with a rush to simplistic solutions. Amidst this, it is quite common to feel the most isolated and alone you ever have. Not only can this be excruciating, it makes your burden even heavier and harder to work through.
Privacy is also complicated when discussing with friends who may disclose something to the wrong person, or may be involved too deeply to listen without unbiased reaction. Client confidentiality with a licensed therapist is not just a good idea. It is law.

Why self help books and the internet may not be enough.

Nobody responds to pressure exactly the same way. One soldier may return from war traumatized, when another buddy resumed civilian life as before, only to become just as traumatized when confronting "moderate" financial stress. Someone may survive an act of violence yet find their lives upended more by the lack of support afterwards than the violence itself. Our stress, anxiety, and emotional disruptive responses are highly personalized so it can be difficult without training to find what is personally relevant among the boxes of self-help books.
When we read books or other self help materials, we tend to understand it through the same lens we have previously, while continuing to overlook the needed parts just as we have done our whole lives. Trying to change our own thinking can be like trying to lift yourself up by your shoes laces.

It is difficult to do. That is why therapy is a profession.

You may believe strong, intelligent people do not struggle when facing problems like yours. Their challenges may seem worse, or you do not hear them complain. But those are not the things they would be complaining about aloud.
Not all conversation is equal. This is the reason to hire a solid therapist who is trained, practiced, and motivated to stay with you as you explore or revisit even the most challenging, vulnerable parts of your life. There is more to this task than is commonly recognized. That is why it is a profession requiring considerable education, supervision, licensure, and judgement. This is not a simple job. A good therapist, like a surgeon, must act at the same time with both delicacy and courage, not flinching at the tough experiences you have faced, nor responding with carelessness.

How to choose your therapist.

See this booklet by the state board.

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