I’ve been thinking about going to therapy, but…

By Leah Chalofsky

Many of us have said something like this to ourselves or to someone else. We think therapy might be helpful, but for one reason or another, we are hesitant to give it a try. Maybe we feel scared about the idea of talking to someone we don’t know, or of trying something new. Sometimes we are afraid that going to therapy means there is something “wrong” with us or that others will judge us for going. Often, we feel that we don’t have the time or the money.

Do any of these reasons feel familiar?

I feel like I will be paying someone to be my friend. A therapist is different from a friend. When you talk to a friend, you support each other, you listen to each other – it is a mutual give and take. Talking to a therapist is different because a therapist will listen and help you hold your struggles without putting theirs back on you. The therapy session is a time when you can talk and not worry about how much tim you spend talking about yourself, and not worry about being judged. Also, your therapist is trained in therapeutic techniques that your friends might not know much about.

It is too expensive. Yes, therapy can be expensive. However, there are ways to minimize the cost. Find someone covered by your insurance (even Medi-cal covers mental health services). Check to see if your insurance has reimbursement for out-of-network providers. Go to a counseling clinic. See someone at Community Well (all therapists at Community Well have sliding scale fees – www.communtywellsf.com). Look into the Community Well Fund to apply for a scholarship (www.communitywellfund.org). And keep in mind, therapy is an investment in your health and your well-being.

Going to a therapist means I’m weak and can’t take care of myself, or means there is something wrong with me. Going to therapy takes courage. It takes guts to recognize that you need help and to reach out for support. Seeing a therapist IS taking care of yourself. And going to therapy doesn’t mean something is wrong with you! Many people go, for many different reasons, such as stress, trauma anxiety, depression, relationship issues, family conflicts, domestic violence, pregnancy and parenting, etc.

I saw a therapist a while ago and it didn’t help. Well, that does happen sometimes. But therapists are all different and have unique styles and approaches. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. Or maybe you weren’t ready for it at that time in your life, but now you are. Or perhaps couples therapy or family therapy is what you really need. Isn’t it worth trying again?

It is too hard for me to talk about what is bothering me. Therapists use many different techniques, including some non-verbal strategies like art, mindfulness and sandtray. Also, therapists are patient and can help you learn how to talk about yourself and what is going on inside you.

And, you know what, even though I strongly believe in therapy (of course I do, since I am a therapist myself!), it isn’t the right healing modality for everyone. Some people need something different, like massage or meditation or life coaching, or something else. If you are looking to work on yourself, but don’t know where to start, check out the Community Well website (www.communitywellsf.com) and look at the various offerings. Hopefully you will find something that feels like a good fit for you.

If you have questions about therapy in general, or need help figuring out which therapist at Community Well will be the best fit for you, give me a call. I know that starting therapy, especially for the first time, can feel daunting. It is easy to put it off. But maybe now is the time.

Leah Chalofsky, MFT (#86322)

(415) 305-1228