Isn’t therapy mostly talking about the past, about bad childhoods? I don’t want to talk about the past, I want to fix the problems I’m having right now.
Talking about the past can be helpful, especially in the beginning of therapy, because it helps shed light on the meaning behind your current difficulties. Too much emphasis on the past however, can cause people to get stuck repeating the same old stories about themselves and behaving as if those old stories are still true.
Real change comes out of staying in the present moment, paying attention to what is happening right now.
My partner doesn’t like the idea of couples counseling.
Some of the things hesitant partners worry about are: fear of being blamed by the therapist, fear of endless talking when what they want is action, disliking asking for help, and anxiety about not knowing how to “do” therapy. These are all perfectly understandable concerns.
A good couples counselor should be able to address them all, and put the hesitant partner at ease within the first session. It can be helpful, especially when one of you is reluctant, to ask your partner to commit to just one appointment and assure him or her that you will not push for a second one unless you are both comfortable with the therapist and want to continue.
I’m unhappy, but things aren’t completely falling apart. Is it possible my problems aren’t serious enough for a therapist?
Sometimes people feel ambivalent about getting help because they think therapy should be used only in the event of a total crisis. It may be true that your problems don’t feel very serious right now, but waiting and hoping they won’t get worse is usually not the best solution. This is especially true for couples, because while you are waiting, your history together becomes more and more layered with negative experiences, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. Eventually this can lead partners to start thinking about separating because they have forgotten what it is they love about each other.
Addressing problems when they are still small is one of the most helpful things you can do to keep your relationship growing in a positive direction.
I don’t know how to choose a therapist. Any advice?
It’s usually a good idea to look for a therapist who is licensed, who has experience, and who specializes in the kinds of problems you are having. The part that is a little less obvious though, is how the therapist’s style suits you. Every therapist has their own way of working. Some are very active and engaged, some speak very little. There are soft nurturing approaches and more direct practical approaches. None of these styles are necessarily better than the others.
The important thing is to find a therapist who “fits” you, someone you feel a connection with. Most therapists will schedule a phone consultation with you, at no charge, so you can get some idea of this before making an appointment.
Why does therapy cost so much? I’m not sure I can afford it.
It’s true that therapy can seem like a big expense, but many people come to feel that the cost is minimal compared to what they have gained from it. Good therapy brings about changes that go beyond whatever the immediate problem appears to be, because most problems are interconnected with all different parts of your life.
The time, energy and money you put into therapy usually results in a sense of peace and happiness many times over what you had initially hoped for.