Relationships

Have You Ever Been to Therapy?

therapist in insecure

Have you ever been to therapy? Here, writer Haley Nahman shares how she decided to go and why she loves it…

Reader question: How did you decide that therapy was the right choice for you? Abruptly returning home to California has forced me to reflect on my life here before I left for school, and I find myself spiraling into self-loathing as I realize that I never really solved my internal problems. (Paraphrasing what you wrote in an old essay: ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’) I’m thinking of talking to someone, as I find myself too deep in myself that the reassurance from my close ones only washes over.

Haley’s answer: I still remember telling my mom I was going to try therapy when I was 24. She said, “You don’t need therapy. You’re already thinking all the right things! You just need to think less.” My mom is an emotionally attuned and thoughtful person, so it’s surprising to me that she’s wary of therapy. But I think her reaction is a common one, and speaks to why a lot of people never seek out counseling. They assume it’s for someone else — someone more fucked up, or with a harder life, or less capable of coping independently. But for me, going to therapy isn’t about the severity of my problems or ability to solve them; it’s an opportunity to see things differently, which to me is one of the most important aspects of being alive. For that reason, I think therapy is a huge privilege, and anyone who has the resources to go is lucky. (More than that, I think it should be free and paid for through taxes.)

I once took a class in San Francisco on journaling, very random, and I never forgot something the teacher said about taking notes: that it wasn’t about the individual things you wrote down, necessarily, but about the patterns that emerged over time. This describes my experience with therapy almost exactly. Not only does verbalizing your thoughts often reveal something about them, but doing it repeatedly over time often reveals something about who you are. It can make you realize the extent to which you’ve been ruminating on what is essentially one root problem, or help you appreciate the seriousness of something you might deem inconsequential in the day-to-day, or, to borrow a cliche, show you that it always comes back to that thing that kid said to you in sixth grade. Or whatever! A good therapist will help you navigate that process in surprising and useful ways, but I’ve even made headway with bad ones, because the simple act of giving things air is useful on its own.

For an overthinker like me, therapy has also been humbling. Sometimes I’ll be convinced I’ve thought of every possible angle, and then my therapist will offer a completely different way of looking at it that blows my mind, or she’ll make a connection I’d have never thought to make. Some of those moments have genuinely changed me, and I’m so grateful for them. But even less monumental sessions can be restorative. It’s so unusual to have a private relationship with someone whose only focus is to help you, who will accept you even after you say the horrible thing you’ve never said out loud before. And if you’re someone who tends to cut yourself off, or apologize a lot, or overextend yourself for other people, it’s an opportunity to be totally unselfconsciously self-involved. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but there’s a sense of safety inherent in the relationship. You’re free to fuck up and be the messiest version of yourself because that’s the point.

For a first-time therapy-goer, there are definitely some hurdles to clear — finding someone whose style works for you, getting comfortable with being vulnerable, letting go of trying to be liked — and I don’t think everyone needs therapy all the time. I go through phases myself. But I do think most people could benefit from some amount of it. We all have shit to work out, and I believe we’d be better to each other if we had the time and resources and willingness to do it. If you have those things, I say go for it! Moving home and feeling like a teen again seems like an almost comically perfect place to start.

Thoughts? Do you go to therapy? What’s something helpful you’ve learned? We’d love to hear… And sign up for Haley’s great newsletter Maybe Baby, if you’d like.

P.S. The Grand Canyon trick, and a seven-step guide to heartbreak.

(Photo from Insecure. This Q&A was excerpted from Haley’s weekly newsletter, Maybe Baby.)

  1. Alaina says...

    Hi Nadia! Therapist here :) This is a late reply, but I wanted to make a few recommendations. First, as others have suggested, Psychology Today can be a great resource. You can filter by insurance and by “issues”– racial identity is an option, and that + your presenting problem could be a good place for you to start to find someone culturally competent. I’d also recommend reaching out to a few to start, and if they are full, ask if they can refer you to someone.

    If you live in a region with a university, you may be able to see an intern, who is essentially a therapist-in-training (like me!), pro-bono or for a small fee. Interns run their cases by a seasoned supervisor, so you’ll be in good hands. You can try doing a google or linkedin search for “area + therapy intern”.

    Finally– for anyone who has run into trouble with insurance companies only covering a few sessions, etc, I’d suggest writing a short letter outlining your needs and urging them to reform their practices. Therapists often write letters like this advocating for better coverage on behalf of clients, but, simply put, it is more compelling coming from their paying customers.

    I’m so sorry that you’ve run into therapists who have insulted your culture (unacceptable), and that it can be so much work to find someone who can meet your needs. I’m not sure where you live, but if you’d like any help finding someone, please feel free to reach out and I can look into it a bit! (aprovenzanomhp@gmail.com). -Alaina

  2. Cece says...

    Therapy can be so expensive but I’m very lucky to have a fairly popular provider (UnitedHealthcare), and pay only $20 a session. And a silver lining to the pandemic… they’ve been covering 100% of the cost since the spring. Free weekly therapy! I know this is not possible for everyone, but just wanted to post it here in case others have this option and didn’t know it.

    • Fred says...

      Is it? I have the same insurance. How you find a doc?

  3. Maria Anagnostopoulou says...

    I went to a 3 years therapy when the love of my life committed suicide after 15.5 years together during the economic crisis in Greece. I dont take anymore pills during 2,5 years but I still “live” with him.

  4. Meg says...

    The question, “How did you decide that therapy was the right choice for you?” feels to me like one of those questions–if you’re asking it (and can afford it), then therapy is probably the right choice for you. Mostly because therapy doesn’t seem to me like it could really be the wrong choice for anyone–if you go a couple times and don’t take anything from it then it may be of little benefit, or not worth the cost, or you may need to try another therapist or style, but only in rare circumstances could I imagine things are worse than not going. I went to one therapist for two sessions, didn’t feel like I was gaining anything and stopped for a bit, then tried another a few months later and have been in therapy once every 2-4 weeks for almost a year. I’ve never felt a major “need” for therapy in my life, but I enjoy the time talking with my therapist and now feel like I get something good out of each session.

  5. Elle says...

    Finding a therapist can be a challenge, but I always recommend this tool from Psychology Today:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

    It has lots and lots of filters for all kinds of things– address, sliding scale availability, insurance carriers, type of psychological practice, even gender of the therapist, relgious affiliations/specialties, languges spoken. I used it to find mine and recommend it to absolutely everyone. In my experience, it takes the enormuos and daunting task of finding someone, anyone who you can talk to and makes it sort of like shopping online– suddenly your gigantic field of endless options because more narrow and less intimidating.

    • Sam says...

      I found my absolutely fabulous therapist of over 4 years on Psychology Today! My therapist was shocked that we were such a good match when that’s the only way I did any research. I admit, I am lucky, but therapy has been life-changing and I credit it with helping me see issues and work on things that led me to an amazing new job and my now-husband!

  6. Therapist here! I wish it were possible to respond to everyone who reaches out for support, but between existing clients experiencing intense life stressors, SO MANY prospective clients reaching out by phone/email/website daily, and trying to keep a grasp on my own mental health, it’s hard to keep up. I know it’s so frustrating to reach out to therapists over and over and not hear back. My advice is to not hesitate to reach out more than once if you see someone who might be a great fit, and in an email (or preferably VM, for HIPAA reasons) include some information about who you are and why you’re looking for support. This helps us sort through potential clients faster and get started with appropriate matches more quickly. There are also increasingly better resources for finding therapists of color like https://southasiantherapists.org/. Oh, and don’t hesitate to ask for a sliding scale fee! Many therapists (myself included) are happy to take a reduced payment to avoid dealing with insurance. Good luck!

  7. Rachel says...

    Yayyy, am so excited to see Haley on Cup of Jo! Love her writing – kind of obsessed with her newsletter, Maybe Baby!

  8. A says...

    I’ve been seeing my therapist for almost 5 years now and we still find patterns emerging. The biggest piece of wisdom I have gotten from her recently is “Different does not mean messy.” My family is very close and I have ended up choosing a different path in many ways from the rest of my family, specifically my older sister who has things pretty much set: big house, very wealthy, sweet family and kids and a set career. I do alright for myself, I have a very sweet partner who I dearly love, but have a very different lifestyle and career and have struggled with feeling that my choices are inferior and messy because they are not something that I had modeled to me and because my mom tends to fawn over a lot of my sister’s lifestyle as “perfect”. I would focus on that instead of the times she praises mine. I don’t know why, but one day it just clicked when my therapist said “Different does not mean messy”. I can have a different chosen lifestyle than my family and still feel “put together” and secure. Sometimes you need to say it a lot and then have reality held out and shown to you in order to understand that your perception isn’t necessarily reality.

  9. Jess says...

    I started seeing a therapist after my daughter had a stroke at 4 months of age which left her with hemiplegia. I had PTSD from the diagnosis and not knowing what caused her stroke. I learnt life changing lessons on how to manage my anxiety, enjoy life again and be present for my daughter. Best part of my therapy experience? After a few months of seeing my therapist he said he’d like to share something with me, he has hemiplegia due to a stroke as a baby too. I had no idea. A surreal moment when I realised my baby girl was going to do fine.

  10. Renee says...

    I’m a huge fan of therapy, however, like many others, the cost is a major hurdle for me and the reason I’ve put it off over the years. As my insurance only covers a few sessions, it’s really not much help. I’m happy to say I’ve had great success with Betterhelp (no affiliation). I was matched with the best therapist I’ve ever had and while the monthly fee is a bit of a stretch for me as a self-employed individual with a fairly low income, it’s much less expensive than what I would pay I out-of-pocket in San Francisco. I meet with my therapist virtually once a week and pay $320/month (i.e, $80/session). My first month was discounted as I used a promo code from the Conan podcast (highly recommend for some good laughs!).

  11. Kim says...

    Yes to therapy. Also, Molly’s shoes in that picture

  12. Sofie says...

    I love Hailey’s writing, I love CoJ and I LOVE therapy.

    It is not everything, but there is nothing like it.

    Something a therapist said to me once is that confidence can’t me trained or willed forth, it comes from having done the thing. I still think of that often, and it helps me let go of waiting to do something until I feel confident (instead I try to do the thing and then learn and gain confidence from having done it).

    Also, “there is no should.”

  13. sofie says...

    That sounds super difficult. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Hope you find a good therapist and the light inside you soon ❤️

  14. Vicki says...

    The hardest part about therapy is making the first appointment, maybe because for that part you feel alone. After that you have the luxury of having someone really listen to you, and help you through your thoughts. It’s powerful.

  15. Even as a therapist I noticed a hesitation to go to therapy! – Ridiculous I know? But I absolutely love therapy (both going and providing). When else do you get o process like that?! Some days it’s like a massage for your brain- a nice release, others it’s a cathartic whap upside the head or a very very good cry. Either way therapy is for everyone!

    Ps- besides being in private practice I run a company focused on connecting people to mental wellness resources and we have an awesome series called “ask me anything”. Check it out on Instagram @mentalhealthlou

  16. Cynthia says...

    I’ve never been to therapy, but my adult daughters go, and I am all for it. Do whatever you need to do for your health and wellbeing.

  17. Isabelle says...

    These comments from Hailey are so spot-on. I started therapy over three years ago when I realized my anxiety was getting debilitating and my work friend told me, “You know our insurance plan pays 90% of therapy costs, unlimited, right?” No, no, I had not realized that and it was the push I needed to find a therapist. I’ve been going regularly ever since and a few months after I started, my husband started as well. A year later we started couples therapy! We joke that we are the most therapized family ever. It’s been so so helpful in so many ways, and I try to talk openly to everyone I know about it, because I do think it is still stigmatized. I’ve helped convince several friends to go too. I used to feel the same way: Oh, I’m not fucked-up enough to go to a therapist. Going meant I had to realize I had a problem I wanted to work on. But everyone has problems! It’s totally normal to need mental health care, the same way we need physical health care. I’ve had so many aha moments in my therapists’ chair, and now at home on my own couch with all sessions being virtual. It’s hard to be vulnerable, so I still sometimes get nervous right before my session, but I always feel better afterwards.

  18. J. says...

    Here is my therapy story (and how it changed and saved my life and showed me light):

    I was drowning in a deeply, horrifically toxic relationship, so in love that I thought I would die if it ended but in so much constant, increasing pain that I was collapsing in on myself. I was traveling for work, had too many drinks with some coworkers, and said some things about how he treated me– finally– to him that I had never had the courage to say soberly. The next day, he was so angry with me that he wouldn’t speak to me–at all–and in a wild attempt to rip out his forgiveness, I sat in a hard airport chair and wrote him a paragraphs-long message about how much I hated myself, how horrible I was, how lucky I was to have him (my heart breaks now for that sad, scared girl), and that to prove how sorry I was, look-at-this-grand-gesture!– I would go to therapy!

    I remember opening Zocdoc on my dying phone and frantically scrolling through, stopping on one person who had an open appointment on a Monday and whose one review said ‘never judges.’ It was an act of sheer desperation intended to win back cruel affection from a broken, hateful person, but now looking back I also like to think it was a desperate cry for help from my future self.

    When I arrived at my first therapy appointment, she asked what made me seek out therapy, and I stammered over “I’m kind of anxious sometimes? And maybe I drink a little bit too much once in a while, that’s bad right?” while she listened patiently until, approximately 127 seconds in to our appointment, I broke down into hysterical, gulping, gasping sobs. The warmth and kindness that radiated from her through nothing more than her focused attention that was completely silent but was shouting loudly: I’m right here, it’s okay, I can handle this, I’m here.

    Long story short, I left her office 90 minutes later after that first appointment and, to his complete disbelief and rage, ended things with him. My friends had been begging me to leave this relationship for a while, but it wasn’t until I heard the horror of describing our relationship to a then complete stranger that I saw it clearly for myself for the very first time.

    It took at least a year to entirely untangle myself from him and to work through what allowed me to be in such a horrible relationship in the first place, and there are still scars leftover, but without the irony of trying to win him back by going to therapy and discovering that though I did hate myself then, my tiny, feeble, buried-deep love for myself was stronger than my overpowering love for him, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me.

    Dramatic! But in case anybody reads this– try therapy. It truly did save me, and four years down the road I get teary all over again thinking about how that one frantic, seemingly meaningless moment in an airport ended up being the prick of light from a lighthouse that brought me back to me. (And thank you to my wonderful, funny, steady therapist who feels like home to me and to my work insurance that I was so, so lucky to pay for most of it).

    • Sonja says...

      This is beautiful. The world is lucky to have you in it and I’m so so glad you found yourself. Go you!!!!!!!

  19. Gwen says...

    I first went to therapy after my parents divorced when I was 5. I spent the next 20 years resisting the idea of therapy because it felt like my mom would send me to therapy because she was trying find something wrong with me to explain why I was different. I now realize that she just wanted to make sure that my mental health was taken care of, because she suffers from some pretty severe mental health issues herself.

    In my mid-twenties, I decided that I could probably benefit from therapy, since I deal with anxiety and depression. It took a lot to convince myself that my issues were serious enough to warrant therapy. I feel like the popular conceptions of anxiety and depression that are portrayed in media are panic attacks and having suicidal thoughts or not being able to get out of bed, none of which have been things I’ve experienced. I got through high school, college, and grad school with a constant low-level feeling of dread, low self-esteem, and only having enough energy to do the bare minimum I needed to do well, and it took me a while to realize that I didn’t need to live like that. It took me another few years to find a therapist who I clicked with. I definitely spend more money on it than I would like, and I am grateful to be able to afford it. I wish that our culture were more open about mental health issues and that there wasn’t the stigma around needing therapy that I felt even as a little kid.

  20. Nicole A. says...

    My parents are going through a divorce right now. I’m in my late twenties, which adds an odd element of awareness I probably wouldn’t have if they’d split when I was younger. I’m shocked it didn’t happen before because they were both so toxic to each other (if unintentionally) for so long. My mom phoned to tell me she is doing virtual therapy, which really puts me at ease. I wish my dad would consider the same, but he’s stubborn.

  21. Nadia says...

    If only there was fair access to therapy… been searching FOREVER. but to find one that takes my insurance, has availability and who will call/email me back is near impossible. And one that has done racial identity work or can understand my multi-cultural background or at the very least not insult my culture is a unicorn.
    le sigh.

    • Sonja says...

      I’m so sorry. It shouldn’t be that way. Best of luck and I hope your search gets better from here out.

    • Sarah says...

      Many, many therapists choose not to be paneled with insurance companies (for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it’s not always financially feasible for therapists or they don’t want to navigate the constraints of the system, which tends to prioritize speed/short-term solutions over long-term well-being), so I would recommend asking therapists about their sliding scale options! Nearly all therapists reserve a number of spots on their caseload for those who are unable to pay their full fee, so you can ask if they have any sliding scale spots available. You might also check Open Path, where a number of therapists offer low-cost sessions for at least 3 months (sometimes stretching on longer than that–depends on the therapist).

    • Jenn J. says...

      Hi Nadia, You may want to check out The Loveland Foundation, founded by Rachel Cargle. Not sure they’ll suit your needs but it’s worth a try. Wishing you the best <3

  22. KC says...

    So often Cup of Jo posts exactly what I need to see, and I’m so grateful. I had my first baby right before the pandemic, and I’ve been swimming in grief, isolation, and anxiety ever since. This is in no way what I had envisioned welcoming my child into the world or adapting to motherhood. I was already at high risk of PPD – I have struggled with anxiety and situational depression in the past, but things got dark and debilitating quickly. Just the work of finding a therapist was overwhelming, everyone I could find that worked with my criteria was not taking new clients — everyone needs more help during a pandemic. My husband finally contacted my OB to help me, who connected me with someone in network who was AWFUL. After the hardest week of my life this spring, filled with very dark thoughts, which I shared with my therapist, she didn’t show for our next session. And never followed up. I was so turned off – did I just get ghosted by my therapist?! – that I never reached back out. Things have gotten better, but this post reminds me I should not just be surviving day to day. Probably worth it for me to put in work again to try to find someone so I’m not just feeling marginally ok every day.

    • honore says...

      I hope you do. My first experience with a therapist was as a 12 year old tween, (people – do not drop your tween/teen girls off with male therapists – I’m sure they’re not all bad but there is really no way of knowing even when they seem socially stable). I wasn’t physically molested but he had a very inappropriate/insensitive vibe and questions. Psychological insensitivity and inappropriateness is very difficult to explain to people especially for a teen girl. But it was abuse and I never went back to him.

      Long story short I tried many over the years as well as picking up meditation as a daily practice and you will eventually find helpful people so keep working through them.

    • kb says...

      So sorry you are/have experienced this. Please keep trying – finding the right fit is so crucial but makes all the difference. I know it’s a busy time but I am sure there is someone out there that can help. Sometimes it’s referral, sometimes it’s research and luck but so worth it. Best of luck to you. (In the meantime I personally like free hypnosis/meditation videos on youtube by Suzanne Robichaud and talks by Tara Brach. I think of them more as guided meditations. It won’t take the place of therapy but is an accessible free listen that can help in their own way.)

    • MB says...

      Please keep trying, KC. The right therapist is out there for you and it will be well worth the effort. I know it’s hard to make the effort right now when you’re feeling so down and have a new baby to care for, but it’s an important lesson to learn that it’s critical to look after yourself in order to look after your baby. Hang in there!

    • Jilleun says...

      Hi KC, I also had my first baby in April of this year, and it has been SO HARD. Luckily I had a therapist from the previous year and went back to see her. It has been life saving literally. It’s also so helpful for me that she is a mom!
      I know it’s hard and a lot of work to find a good fit in therapy but it will be so worth it for your mental health.

      Also if you’d like to chat over email jilleun@hotmail.com I’m sure it could be beneficial for both of us.

      I wish you the best <3

  23. Meg says...

    I watched that scene in Insecure a few times so that I could gaze at different views of the therapist’s office. It’s wonderful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! those bookshelves are incredible.

    • jdp says...

      the therapist in “never have i ever” — also a favorite.

  24. Emma says...

    I’ve been in therapy (specifically CBT based) for almost five years now and it has completely changed my life. I started going to address situational depression and come out of the trauma caused by a toxic work place, but over time, my goals became bigger and more broad. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, how to navigate hard emotions, be truer to who I am and find fulfillment.

    I honestly think everyone should go to therapy. At the very least, it provides space where you get to have an hour a week that is all about your feelings, frustrations, etc, with someone who has literally be trained to help you. I don’t really see the downside!!! (besides cost and other barriers to entry, which very much agreed, shouldn’t be factors)

  25. Mikayla says...

    I first went to therapy my last semester in college. I was going through the worst bout of depression in my life, a breakup, the scariness surrounding graduation/first jobs, and religious disassociation. I also had a sudden onset of some alarming health problems that affected my mobility and no M.D. I saw could diagnose. I still don’t have answers on my medical issues and deal with limited physical ability on a daily basis.
    What I remember most about those session is one poster on the wall of the therapist’s office. It was titled “What Emotion Am I Feeling?” and was hung just to the left of the practicioner’s chair. I can remember studying the rather juvenile-looking emojis on it with different facial expressions representing different nuanced emotions like contentment, frustration, and sadness. During one of our sessions I fixated on Grief – it had the sharp eyebrows of Anger and the tears of Sadness – and it struck me that was what I was experiencing. I was grieving the loss of myself and my identity that slipped away from me rapidly, and part of what I grappled with moving forward was embracing a new identity and self, with different challenges, responsibilities, and physical limitations. Just being able to name my emotion fundamentally switched my helpless confusion to self-acceptance and understanding. I’m infinitely grateful to that therapist for all the things I don’t remember about those sessions that helped me through that time – but I’m mostly grateful for her sensitive interior decorating. You never know what will help someone!

  26. Lisa says...

    I’m having therapy at the moment, after areally difficult time. This is my fourth time having it. First two times at university, third after I developed PND and anxiety and now this time. I remember after my sessions the first time I had it, feeling that I was completely hollowed out afterwards. It made me feel so vulnerable, but was ultimately helpful. with the PND, I was having CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which was helpful in a different way, giving me coping mechanisms and practical ways to deal with the anxiety. What Haley has said above is something I have experienced as well, where you say something horrible (or in my instance, talked about a really horrific event) and it is just incredible to have someone listen to it and accept it. It helps so much to have someone with a bit of distance.

    One thing to note – I’m in the UK, and I have never paid directly for any of the therapy I received. At university it was covered by the university itself and the National Health Service. When I had PND, it was covered by the NHS and I was referred within a month (women who are less than 12 months post partum get priority for mental health support). The most recent round is covered by my employer. So yes, it is possible

    • I’m a therapist who also goes to therapy. I’ve been to many and finally found the right fit. One of the most valuable things in therapy is to notice how you make contact and what are the ways in which you hide from connection. I practice from a Gestalt framework which is very much about the here and now and contact. A few people mentioned trauma. EMDR is an excellent resource and the number one tx for trauma. I do it and can refer if you have any questions. Please check out emdr for trauma if you are in need. I love this post and this blog Joanna.
      Lindsey@Relational-Therapy.com

    • MB says...

      I’m an American living in London and am so incredibly grateful for the mental health resources provided by the NHS for postpartum women!

  27. sarah from switzerland says...

    I went to therapy for several long stretches of my life. My mum died when I was very Young and people generally assume that’s the reason. But it’s only part of it.
    As one of my therapists once said, “our parents are the people who show us how to love ourselves and how to treat ourselves. And when those people are overwhelmed or not there, then we often grow up being too harsh to ourselves”. So that’s why I go to therapy: to learn to be kinder to myself and thus to others. Also, on a more general level – life is hard and sometimes you just need a little support!

    • Erin says...

      Thank you for sharing that quote. that is lovely!!!

    • Carol says...

      Your quote from the therapist is what I also remember from my time in therapy. She compared my self talk to how I would speak to my own daughter. I would never, ever, say the same things to her that I was saying to myself.

  28. Karen says...

    I have been talking with the same therapist since age 18 – and I’m now 43. Her support and guidance throughout my life has proved invaluable, on both personal and professional levels. When I was in college, she helped me battle an eating disorder; today’s hot topic is the family business (so many layers there!). For the last 13 years we’ve been on opposite coasts, and the phone calls have worked well. For the most part we connect every 2-3 months, more frequently when I need it (which has been the case during the pandemic).

    Also, two years into marriage my husband and I sought counseling together. The start of our relationship/family was swift and robust – in a matter of three years we met/moved in/got engaged/got preg/married/had baby/bought family biz/2nd baby (I was preg at our wedding, which is funny b/c I specifically wanted to wait until our first was born so I would not be pregnant at our wedding LOL; our girls are 15 mos apart)/moved & bought a house……I was a wreck, and it was piling up for me in a bad way. To this day, not only am I SO THANKFUL my husband came to me and said “we need help” (before “this isn’t working/I’m over it”), but to this day we hearken to some things we learned. (For example, if you’re not seeing eye to eye on something, ask “what is she/he REALLY asking for?” People don’t always know how to be direct, or this issue on the surface may be only part of it, there could be something more.)

    In general, I’ve found a good therapist, one who really knows you, is essentially an amazing sounding board. Everything they know about your situation is from YOUR perspective. After all, my perspective IS my reality, right? So someone who’s able to listen to that, and then cultivate a response using their professional skills (which should all be in your benefit) – that’s what you need.

    Therapy for Life!

  29. Charlotte says...

    Jo, I just have to mention how much your blog has helped me in terms of seeking therapy. You cited a therapist named Nathan Fieles in a past post (way back!), regarding a fear of flying. Since I had such a phobia, I sought him out and started weekly sessions with him via Skype (we are states away).

    This was literally one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Not only did he help me overcome my fear of flying, but he helped me resolve some trauma from my childhood, and process the grief of losing a loved one. My level of general anxiety decreased greatly, and I was able to conclude my sessions with him a few years ago. I’m so grateful for the role therapy played in my life during that time.

  30. Clara says...

    I am about to start going to therapy for the first time in my life and this post is what I needed. Thanks!

  31. Reba says...

    I consider therapy sometimes–I have a stressful “helping” career and I am also very alone, so I wouldn’t mind paying someone to care just about me and my concerns for a fifty-minute hour. I could probably afford it and I don’t particularly care about others’ opinions or stigma. Once, after a series of particularly upsetting family events, I even went so far as to begin researching therapists. But even the research/vetting process was so much work, and I’m not much of a talker, so it seemed like if I persevered, all I’d get out of it was…therapy (more work that I didn’t want to do). So I’ve never pursued it. Interesting to read other perspectives.

    • MK says...

      I hear you on this, Reba! Doing the work of searching out a therapist that’s reasonably close to my home, takes my insurance (or has rates I can afford without it), and has an opening on their schedule is exhausting work. I’m amazed also by the administrative personnel who don’t take time to follow up/write insensitive emails. It took me months to work up the incremental emotional stamina and searching to find one that worked, and in my case the timing was perfect. I wish you peace and good fortune on your wellness journey, whether that includes a professional help or not.

    • Angie, Baby says...

      Therapy is more than just someone caring about you & your concerns, and while it can be work, it is not just that. We all carry burdens, and therapy can help you get a better grip to make carrying easier, can help you put down some unnecessary burdens, can help you avoid picking up burdens that are not yours to carry. Don’t let the first step (make the appointment) prevent you from going on the journey.

    • honore says...

      There’s really only a stigma among those who’ve never done it and what do they know?

    • Angela says...

      Psychologytoday.com was recommended to me by a friend. As an avid online shopper and a researcher by trade, this site was a fantastic experience and has netted at least 4 friends and family members a great therapist. No affiliation, just wanted to pass along something to help break down that initial barrier.

  32. kelly says...

    I’ve been with the same counselor for 15 years. She helped me change my life and taught me so much about myself. I’m a better person and a better mother because of her.

  33. T says...

    A great method for finding a therapist is to type a brief email of your primary issues that you would like to work through, send this to the psychologists in your area and then evaluate the responses.

    For me, one therapist forwarded my email to a peer without asking me first because they themselves had a full case load – that lack of consent / boundaries didn’t sit well with me, so they were eliminated. As were the ones who replied several weeks later, or were curt or even too nice … I fully Goldilocksed the situation and then felt much, much better about later showing up.

    • Riley says...

      Forwarding your email is a HIPAA violation — you can report that to your local DOH.

  34. Liz says...

    Therapy pulled me out of the darkest time of my life, after my son was born. I suffered a very traumatic birth and had spiraled so low I didn’t even realize. I found a wonderful therapist who specializes in reproductive trauma. It was a short period but I wouldn’t be where I am today as a mother and woman if I hadn’t found her. And if my husband hadn’t gently encouraged me to seek help. I cannot say enough I think therapy saved my life as much as my OB did.

  35. Adel says...

    I think that some people need therapy but all people can benefit from therapy. I’m a psychologist, and have myself been to therapy for two periods in my life. So I’m well aware of the benefits from both ends. And yet- I still struggle to push myself to therapy when I’m in the benefit and not need phase of life.

    • A says...

      I like how you stated this, and that’s been my challenge. I’ve never been to therapy and have only really thought about it when I’m in the benefit phases of life… I often hear “everyone should go to therapy” but when I asked a friend (who has been going for a long time) she echoed that and then said I should go in with a goal or prepared to talk about what issues I’m currently dealing with. Well… in the benefit phase, I’d say nothing major or specific? So would I get something out of starting now even if I don’t have a specific thing to discuss? I just imagine the therapist saying “ok, so why are we here today?” and me saying “bc blogs tell me everyone benefits from therapy?”

  36. Katey says...

    One of the issues brought up throughout this comments section is the cost. Ugh, you’re right! It is expensive and often insurance doesn’t cover near enough of what we want.

    I’m a therapist and a client of a therapist, so I speak from both sides of the table. If this is an issue you feel strongly about, I encourage you to vote in local and national elections for reform on mental healthcare and for candidates who will enact change. Changing policy is the only way to get clients and patients the service and care they want and give therapists the remuneration they earn. The free market isn’t interested in providing high quality care but many civil servants are.

    I’d love to see mental health care properly valued in our country. Changing policy will help make that happen for us and future generations.

    • Anita says...

      Yes! This! As a therapist and client myself, I currently feel that I undervalue my services (charge patients too little) due to, in part, guilt that services are so unaffordable. My own therapist charges me a much more livable wage for her own services, which I can afford due to my life circumstances, but which I would like to earn myself. These are absolutely things I should address in my own business model. But the real change that would help the most people is to subsidize therapy in a more effective way, so that clients could get access to a larger amount of therapists, and therapists could make a more livable wage.

    • honore says...

      Some therapists use a payscale which is very fair and very inclusive I feel. That way those who can pay full price help keep your work alive and you are still able to help those who would otherwise be unable to see you.

  37. cg says...

    Yes. Yes. So often I have heard that therapy isn’t for them. I get it. But I would like to say, let’s rephrase that. I believe it should be “Therapy isn’t for me now, but it could be, at a different time.” The reason I say this is because I have been to therapy before. For about two years. Then I felt like I had a handle on things. I had less to share, less to mull, I felt truly in a good space. Fast forward ten years, and I’m again considering it. Life’s challenges come and go, and I always tell myself and the ones I love (like my daughter), we have to be flexible. In that same vein, we should be flexible (and honest) about seeking therapy as well.

    The first time I went I wasn’t so sure about it. But I went a second time, and a third to say I gave it a real go at it. It was the fourth visit when I had a serious epiphany about my fears, hurt and dichotomous feelings about being a mom, having a child with a disability. It revealed itself in a most surprising way. I was talking about my relationship with my dad (strained in that stereotypical Old School Asian dad not understanding his Westernized daughter), and especially about when I was growing up and his lack of communication, let alone saying things like I love you or I’m proud of you. It hit me mid sentence, I literally gasped and started sobbing. I had hang ups about my daughter’s disability because I had come to equate non communication for lack of love, and ultimately I was afraid and hurt that my own daughter (who wasn’t talking at the time) wouldn’t be able to love me or understand love. It was most profound.

    So all that to say, yes. Yes to therapy, if you feel you need it, don’t hesitate to try it.

  38. Sarah says...

    Haley Nahman for cup of jo….. love it!

  39. Mary says...

    Yes to therapy! He brought me back to life after such a tough time in my life. I still see him a few times a year. A person I’ve found on IG, @the.holistic.psychologist has helped in a different way. She guides you to self heal. Both approaches have been super helpful.

  40. Jules says...

    I’ve went to a therapist off and on for years (currently on) and honestly never even realized there was a stigma about it, really. As an over thinker with a tendency to keep all the thoughts in, I find it SOO helpful when I’m stressed to lay all of it out there to someone who doesn’t have any reason for judging me and my inner monologue.
    I would love to hear some of your opinions or advice on how to end a “stint” with your therapist, though? I’ve been going for over a year now and I do feel like we click, but I’m not getting much from it and rarely look forward to speaking anymore. My previous therapists always realized this and took it upon themselves to end the relationship but I dont know how to on this end.

    • CEW says...

      I’d say it the same way you wrote it here. They’ll get it.

    • Agnès says...

      you should talk about it to your therapist, as something to talk about ;-) sometimes it is because you don’t really want to talk about some big issue, sometimes it’s worth taking a break.

    • Rosie says...

      My best friend is a therapist and she says most people call and cancel their standing appointment and say they’ll call back to reschedule and just never do even if they are long time patients. I don’t think you have to truly break up with them.

    • Megan says...

      Hi Jules, a good therapist does not take much personally, and is used to termination of services. I am actually a bit surprised that previous providers have taken it upon themselves to end the relationship. Since therapy is client-driven, it is usually up to the client to do this. I just want to offer reassurance that this likely feels bigger to you than it will be received by the provider. A simple: “i feel like i am ready to step down / step away from therapy for now” should suffice. Good luck!

    • Gaby says...

      Hi Jules,

      I have “ended” things with a therapist before and I also felt very awkward and even guilty for it. I simply emailed (or texted, don’t remember) and told her it wasn’t really working for me but thanked her for all her help. She tried to convince me to come back which made it even harder! But I have had really good therapists in the past and I just knew I could find someone who I worked better with.

      Basically, don’t waste your time if you aren’t getting anything out of it. Your therapist won’t take it personally and it frees you up to find someone you click with better! Best of luck.

  41. Silver says...

    I went to therapy for depression last year. I was so low, I was suicidal. I couldn’t see my way through the mess I was in and felt burdened by the havoc one bad decision was causing my family. I was stuck in a job that was a living hell and it ate into everything. My therapist was incredible – she saw the way I allowed the Board of Management to interact with me as akin to domestic violence and this gave me a perspective to work with – an understanding why I felt I had to please them even though I know their incompetence was the problem with the company. But more than that, one day she said “imagine you’ve resigned, and it is three months later. Sit with that for a moment and tell me what happens” – That one scenario was worth everything to me – three months on, that idea, I felt free, unshackled – for those moments my entire body embodied the feeling. It still took another month before I resigned, but everytime I wavered I could return to that image and the feeling it inspired. Whilst I never wanted to be the sort of person who contemplated suicide (it runs in my family and I was a suicidal teenager) it’s a hard thing to fight every single day, day after day after day – I was really scared that I would fail one day. I have anaphylaxis allergies, so it can be easy for me – and one day I did drive to the national park without a phone, without my epipens and with food that wold kill me – but luckily I threw it out the window and drove straight to my doctor and asked for help. Therapists are amazing – they give you space, and they know how to challenge you in a safe way. All I could see was someone who had failed in every single way and she helped me. My depression was caused by a terrible situation, so once I resigned I didn’t need to return but I love knowing that someone is there if those walls close in again. Sometimes you just need someone to help you frame things in a different way.

    • Liz says...

      <3

  42. L says...

    I haven’t been in years now but I am such a big advocate for therapy – so, so glad that it’s continuing to be normalized! I truly wish ALL humans had access to good therapy. And thank you to all the heroic therapists out there! It can be so daunting to take the initiative to get started and find the right person but man the rewards can be so immense. Sending love and fortitude to anyone beginning the journey. The stresses of this time are no joke (let alone in regular life ha) – take care everyone xo

  43. Sarah says...

    Haley! Yes. Yes. Yes.

  44. Nicole says...

    I have been in therapy since 2008. I was having a hard time recovering from the breakup of my first serious relationship. My health insurance didn’t cover it at the time and I went on craigslist looking for a second job to try to afford it. Instead I found my therapist! She advertised on craigslist and offered a sliding scale and while part of me thought she might be a murderer (craigslist??), I figured it couldn’t be worse than how I was feeling. The first session I was terrified and when I sat down I babbled about not knowing how to be in therapy and she smiled and said why don’t we start with what brought you here today. Then I cried for the remaining 48 minutes of our session. I’ve been in love with therapy ever since.

    Sure, I have a lot of shit to work through, most people do. But the act of digging deeper, of examining why I am the way I am, and why my interpersonal relationships function the way they do – this work has enriched my life like no other. Team Therapy!

  45. Kate says...

    Oh my goodness! What a useless thing for her to say!

    I’ve been in therapy (on and off) since my early teens. I’ve definitely had highly unhelpful therapists and therapists I just didn’t jive with. As someone else mentioned, some therapists offer a free consult and that’s how I found mine :) Give it another go, if it’s free you really have nothing to lose!

  46. K says...

    my therapist completely changed me. to talk to someone that asked questions in just the right way that revealed myself to me.

    talking with friends and family, i notice 3 common issues regarding therapy:
    1. the person who’s terrified of starting therapy, and their worry is not “what will people think” but rather they’re in deep denial and are afraid to be honest about regrets. ostrich head in the sand.
    2. the person who thinks they already know the right answer, and thinks they’ll just be further devastated when the therapy doesn’t solve their problems.
    3. the person that is more than willing to go to therapy, but actually externalizes a little too much, and uses therapy only to vent. therapy is like going to your doctor for physical health, it’s healthy to get check ups. at the same time, for both physical and mental health, YOU have to do the homework. YOU have to exercise, eat healthy, be willing to be emotionally honest with yourself. Expert or not, no one can solve your problems without your compliance.

    Whether you have access to professional therapy or not, I find this quote to be true:

    “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky

    • Anon says...

      I started therapy at the start of this year, pre-pandemic.
      I was in “a group” which met to discuss a serious illness we all have. Some issues erupted out of me, much to my surprise, because I’ve been excellent at hiding them from people who know me, for decades.
      The people running the group said they’d like to refer me to a therapist. My response? “I don’t want someone to sit and hold my gand and listen to my chikdhood agonies. I know myself really well. I need someone to light the rocket that’s up my ass!”
      They chose the right person!
      Four months later, I called my abusive relationship quits!
      She didn’t tell me to do anything. (Since the pandemic, we have my sessions over the phone and it’s just as good).
      She mirrored what I was saying and I heard my own life reflected back at me, and it was horrendous and scary.
      I describe it as having my glasses cleaned so I could see clearly without the murkiness of the delusion of my abuser.
      I’m now working through leaving the relationship physically and dividing assets (not easy), but I know there will eventually be calm, peace and healing. I can’t wait unyil I’m on my own and freeeeeee!

    • Melanie says...

      That quote is absolutely beautiful.

  47. Christine says...

    I would probably be divorced if it weren’t for starting couples therapy a little over a year ago. Things are far from perfect in my relationship (we are still going to therapy) but we are worlds better than we were when we started.

    A small tip for anyone wanting to go to therapy but finding time and or leaving the house is an issue for you (it was for me… we have small children), try and find a therapist who will do Skype sessions with you. They are out there, especially now, with COVID rules in place. We skype With our therapist after the kids are in bed… it’s great.

  48. Stacy says...

    It’s a detriment to society that we continue to stigmatize mental health yet we sensationalize physical health, i.e. eating well, exercise, etc. Our mind, body and heart/soul are all interconnected and when one of these elements is out of the balance, it impacts the rest of our being – it’s a proven fact. I hope that trends relating to self-care and boundary setting continues to gain traction that eventually leads to normalizing counseling as if it were going to the gym.
    I have been in therapy for ten years and I am studying to be a counselor with the hope of supporting folks navigating grief and loss.
    The question shouldn’t be “Have you been to therapy?” but “When will you try therapy?”

    • Sarah says...

      I am both a psychologist and a therapy client. When completing an intake with a new client I start by saying- “In the same way you would never be friends with every person you meet, I’m never going to click with every person who sits on my couch. This hour is just as much about you getting to know me as it is for me to get to know you.” I find this takes a bit of pressure off of an already anxiety producing event and allows clients to feel open to ask me questions as well (within reason of course). I am also hopeful this points clients toward trusting their own intuition. In the end you should feel both exhausted AND hopeful if you’ve found the right fit for you.

  49. Charlotte says...

    Haley! So good to see you here!
    Team CoJ: Veeery good taste and choice!!! Thank you!

  50. j says...

    I started going to therapy for my anxiety/depression when I graduated college, and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. It is so helpful for all the reasons Haley mentioned. I learn so much about myself, patterns that I had no idea were there. And I can honestly say I look forward to it every week.

  51. Maywyn says...

    Good post anyone can benefit by giving your words serious consideration.

    I’ve learned lots, but two of the most important are…If the therapist reacts, with a word, a facial expression, a sound or says something that does not sit well with you, do not let it go. Ask what they mean by that. You deserve a truthful explanation. Also, if a therapist can’t explain something you experienced, that as a professional they should know, then it is time to look for another therapist. Nobody should have to find the techical explanation for what they went through on the Internet when they are in therapy. Not knowing doesn’t help a person heal, and can cause a lot of heartache.
    If you can’t advocate for yourself finding a good therapist, then ask a family member or friend you trust to help you make sure you are with the right professional.

  52. Agnes says...

    I’m a therapist and have been in therapy for mannnny years (best practice in my opinion means being in therapy while you give it!). I’d say for me personally in finding a therapist, the modality really made a huge difference. For example, I had trauma that occurred at a very young age – before I was able to speak – and psychoanalytic therapy helped me WAY more than CBT (which I tried before I trained as a therapist and which was useless for my needs). I’d say to look at your needs / wounds and do some research to see what method might fit best (there are a LOT of different kinds of therapy). Second, some therapists offer a free consult. I offer 30 minute free consults to anyone who is interested but unsure, so they can see if it’s a good fit or not. Just my 2 cents. This is such a huge topic that I am hesitant to say more than just do your research :) Best of luck to all x

    • j says...

      How does a consult usually work? What do people discuss? Goals and style/method? Starting a new therapist, I’m always like, oh do i have to tell my whole story again? But maybe I haven’t found a good fit yet.

    • ML says...

      J – I can’t speak for Agnes, of course, but my free consults are for the potential client to ask any questions that help them determine if I am a good fit for them. I often share an overview of my training and education, and my specialties and modalities. I listen to what they are looking for and why, and offer a brief opinion of whether or not I would be the best practitioner to help them. I hope this is helpful. : )

    • Agnes says...

      Thanks ML, I wouldn’t want to see J’s question left hanging :) I have a consult booked today in fact, and I expect to meet the client after a first phone call, with the prior understanding that we’re going to see if it feels like a ‘good fit.’ I will tell them about my modality and how I work / how therapy works, and they can tell me a little about their situation and background, and any goals or hopes they have for therapy. I’ll then give my (very) brief assessment and recommendations, based on the information. If they feel like they want to go ahead, we’ll then start by booking the next session as a full paid session and take it from there. I will see client for as long or little as they want and will end only when they feel ready. I hope you find the right person for you!

    • ML says...

      Agnes – You said it perfectly! : )

  53. Lucy W says...

    This feels awful to say, but I had a really negative therapy experience and it’s deterred me from ever going back. This was specifically around food and weight anxiety, and the therapist I saw told me there was nothing wrong with me and that I should “just stop dwelling on it”, then charged me $200. I think therapy is wonderful, and I wish so badly that my experience had been as magical as everyone else’s is – but I also wish someone had told me not all therapists are good! I also wish I had the gumption to try someone else, but this experience was so painful and made my anxiety so much worse that I’m afraid to try again.

    • Misha says...

      Hi Lucy, your comment resonated with me because I know a lot of people who seem to think therapy has been magical for them, just like you say, and I do NOT feel that way! My experience has been just OK- definitely not magical, not a series of thrilling “breakthroughs” week after week; but also not bad like yours was — that sounds awful. Even though it’s just “fine” and I feel like quitting sometimes, I’m usually glad I’m still doing it and every now and again I get a new perspective that helps me. If you ever think about going back, the advice I’ve heard from friends who are therapists is: – pick a therapist with an office that’s near your work or your home so you don’t have to go out of your way on those days you really don’t feel like going; and: – don’t hesitate to try out a few different providers to find the right fit. They won’t take it personally!

    • Kate says...

      Oh my goodness! What a useless thing for her to say!

      I’ve been in therapy (on and off) since my early teens. I’ve definitely had highly unhelpful therapists and therapists I just didn’t jive with. As someone else mentioned, some therapists offer a free consult and that’s how I found mine :) Give it another go, if it’s free you really have nothing to lose!

    • Robyn says...

      What that therapist did is so ridiculous that there is a famous skit about it. I hope you will laugh at this, and also that it will help you move on and find another therapist. Please don’t be afraid to keep looking until you find the right person for you. It takes some work but is so worth it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw

    • H says...

      I’m really sorry that happened to you, Lucy. I’ve also had some really negative experiences, ranging from ridiculous to damaging. One seemed disinterested and would interrupt me when she got texts, then laugh to herself while reading them. One insisted on writing down a bunch of inspirational Instagram accounts to follow even after I explained I was not on instagram. One woman actually yelled at me for not trying hard enough to get better. My town has a glut of therapists and I wonder if a bunch of them are just under qualified. I keep attempting to find someone because I keep getting to where I need help, but it’s always a very last resort with fingers crossed it won’t be horrible. Therapy is wonderful for so many, but it’s true that a bad experience with it can make things a lot worse, and it’s important to be careful. For all seeking therapy for the first time- take good care. If something “off” happens, listen to your instinct and stop before you give too much of yourself to that person. You can always find someone else. I know there are talented, amazing therapists out there and I just wish it were easier to distinguish them from the bad ones.

    • Silver says...

      Oh Lucy, that is so upsetting. There really are bad therapists. In my experience I have a GP who knows me really well, so he has referred me to two different therapists (different reasons for needing a different strength I guess). If this is something still troubling you I hope you will try again, and try til you find the right fit. YOU TOTALY deserve to feel good about yourself.

    • Susan says...

      Lucy,
      I wanted to say I’m sorry about your bad experience. No matter anyone’s struggle, they deserve the respect, space, and dignity of being HEARD AND VALIDATED. I wish this trained professional understood the trust and vulnerability of your sharing. Keep your head up!

    • J says...

      I resonate with this, too. I also sometimes think we get to some knowledge in nonverbal ways better. (Art therapy, body work…) Different approaches at different times maybe.

  54. Agnès says...

    I went to therapy for the first time when I was probably 28; it changed my life. I was really scared it would change my essence but I was so mistaken. It freed me, I became myself, I stopped feeling stuck, I felt SO empowered. And from that, everything got so much better, love, work, everything. I only stopped because I moved to another continent and also my economic situation is not good enough, but whoever you are YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT. It’s just like exercising your body: you need to understand your emotions. This posts insists a lot on analyzing, viw points and verbalizing, but for me, it was more about letting the emotions flow, aknowledging them and intellectualizing less. Oh I wish I could go back, it is so exciting to work on yourself and become a better person! (it is hard work).

    • N says...

      “It freed me, I became myself, I stopped feeling stuck, I felt empowered” SO perfectly put! I believe with all my heart that everyone should do therapy (with a good therapist) at some point in their lives. I could shout it from the rooftops!

  55. Rue says...

    Internet friends! This post could not be better timed for me.

    I have been on a therapy JOURNEY with my current therapist for three years. Before that, I spent a year trying out a few different therapists, thinking “I was fine” because I didn’t like working with any of them, spiraled downward until I was definitely not fine, and then managed to find the right person for me.

    So my best tip is that you should *click* with the therapist. It’s like dating. You might go to one session and know they’re not the person for you. Maybe you have two or three appointments because you want to see how things go. But after about 3 meetings, you should be able to say whether you want to make it a therapy relationship. And if it doesn’t feel good, try somebody else.

    I say the timing of this post is perfect because I had a therapy appointment today, and she told me we’ll do one more appointment a month from now and then I basically GRADUATE FROM THERAPY and just… live my life, until the next time I need to work things through with someone else’s help.

    I’m so proud of myself. I never would have imagined 3 or 4 years ago that I’d have everything in my life that I have right now, or that I could feel emotionally GOOD day to day, even when challenging things come up. It obviously was not an overnight thing (those three years felt long most of the time). But, I just, I am speechless, at how proud I am of where I get to be right now, and what life I get to live.

    So it will feel scary at first, but I promise it can lead to the life you’re scared might not exist. It probably does exist, and you can get there with the right therapist for you.

  56. Amy says...

    I went to therapy several times before I found my One True Therapist. He was the one who was able to understand, and to speak in a way that I could hear. The questions he asked not only guided me in the moment, but also taught me how to question my own emotions and reactions ever since. After about four years with him, I felt well enough to leave therapy . While I can’t say I haven’t had hard times since then, mostly I’ve been able to sustain myself through the tools he gave me. We stay in touch, which he appreciates; he said he so rarely hears from patients who get better! I am so enormously grateful to him.

  57. Kat says...

    I was young when I started therapy – fourteen! I will always be so grateful to my parents for recognizing that I was struggling, and for helping me find support. (I also realize what a huge privilege that is, and how fortunate I am.) Even though I haven’t always been in therapy consistently, taking a year off here or there, my therapist has been an invaluable resource for almost half of my life (!) at this point. Looking back on my own experience, I would encourage parents to be aware that therapy could be helpful not only for themselves, but for their children, even if their mental health struggles don’t necessarily seem immediately urgent or acute. Personally, I didn’t go through any clear-cut crisis, but was feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with day to day life–which my parents picked up on. I also think it would be great just to talk to teenagers about therapy, and let them know that it’s something they can turn to if and when they feel the need!

  58. WMom says...

    Yes! I have been in therapy with different therapists since I was 13. I consider it an essential. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years. Therapy has helped me figure out how to navigate life! Right now my therapy is free through my insurance because of COVID.

  59. Em says...

    Therapy allows me to zoom out from my life to observe patterns and thoughts/feelings in a more detached way, so I can see how they help me or harm me. It’s like getting off the never-ending treadmill of thoughts and feelings that I’m usually on, and looking at them fresh for the first time. Then once I’m looking at this stuff from a bit of distance, I can start thinking about the roots of these patterns and whether they’re things I want to take with me into the future or start to unwind and leave behind.

    When I type it out like that, it sounds easy. It’s far from easy but it feels like giving myself a gift. I’ve been in therapy for 1 year and it’s changed my life. I don’t chose that phrase lightly.

  60. Ll says...

    I reached out to a doctor late last year as I was crumbling under all the stress and anxiety and worry in my life. “Stress, anxiety and a hint of a depression” was her verdict. After a long talk we decided I would try anti-depressants and therapy. I think the combination of them both was the root to success for me, but the therapy sessions really helped me understand why I was stressed and anxious, what my behaviors were and how it was impacting my life. And also, being completely honest was amazing after a really long time of staying strong. I recommend therapy to everyone – even if there is not a problem to fix, it’s so helpful in order to understand yourself. (Also, I live in Sweden so everything was completely free. Gotta love taxes)

  61. Lola says...

    There are several comments regarding insurance and I wanted to add a little side note. When a therapist says they don’t take insurance, it means they are out of network and don’t manage billing. However, this means you can still request a superbill and bill it to your insurance. You will then be reimbursed the out of network rate. The form is Claim Form 1500. For example, I have a PPO plan. I see my therapist and pay $140 per session then bill it at the end of each month and I get a check from my insurance for $43 for each session.

  62. CL says...

    My spouse and I have never done therapy but during COVID times, my spouse lost his job and was struggling so I got him some online sessions. I don’t know if he didn’t click with the therapist, but it didn’t really work or seem helpful, it seemed like another chore.

    • Kate says...

      This was really thoughtful of you and well-intentioned. I’ve definitely found that the person has to want to do the work, as frustrating as it can be, they need to be willing to put in the effort to pull out the results. But it may also have a long-term impact; he might learn new coping skills or new perspectives which he may find helpful to access later on.

  63. Jessica says...

    I’m so happy to see Haley Nahman’s writing featured on COJ. Would love to see more of her writing in this space.

    I just want to say that if the first (or even second therapist) doesn’t work out, to keep trying. That’s what happened to me and I’m glad I didn’t give up in finding the right therapist. At first, the idea of finding a new therapist felt daunting- like ugh, do I really need to rehash everything again with a new person? But especially during this pandemic, when my anxiety has been high, I’m glad I have someone to talk to.

  64. katie says...

    Regarding finding the right fit – any tips when you’re not the one directly in therapy? We just started my son (nearly 6) after a pile of huge outbursts this summer. We were passing it off as pandemic for too long and it reached a tipping point. Considering his age, it’s more play based. I don’t feel an immediate connection with the doc, and she’s suggested some tools but nothing major. We’re at week 5. I don’t want to trial out a bunch of doctors, so any tips on what to look for? My son likes going but heck, part of that may be he’s seeing somebody else during quarantine. This is our first go at therapy between my husband and I, as well as immediate family that I know of, so no real reference points.

    • Loren Shlaes, OTR/L says...

      Katie, if your son Is having outbursts, it could be that he is having issues with some aspects of his neurological development which are causing difficulty processing sensory information and affecting his emotional regulation. The play therapy will teach him strategies for controlling his behavior but it won’t address the underlying problem. If you live in a city that has a good pediatric sensory integration clinic run by occupational therapists, I would take him there. He may be struggling with a retained infant startle reflex, oversensitivity to sound or touch, some high level balance issues, or other delays in his neurological maturation that are draining his resources and making it difficult for him to self regulate.

    • Capucine says...

      YES go ahead and change to someone new. My children, aged six and ten, got free grief counseling from the local hospice group. My daughter was an instant clear match with the magical woman who she was paired with. My son was a not-match, I waffled about saying that to their case organizer, and my son had to go do three appointments he hated before I took a deep breath and ended it. She didn’t have kids herself, and it showed in small ways – six is little; kindergarten teachers are magic for a reason, look for that, it exists. He still won’t go near therapy. My daughter still is happy to consider it again. Teach your kid to get help when things are hard, with a person who instinctively feels right to them. If he feels lighter in the day after therapy, that’s a good clue. I had very few feedback sessions for my kids myself btw – one on intake, one at seven visits, and one at the end at twelve visits. I asked for concrete practices to do at home and those remain utterly useful and used to this day, but I had to ask, bluntly: tell me concrete practices to support her at home.

  65. anna says...

    This is great timing! My psychiatrist both upped my Zoloft today and basically told me to get in therapy. I’m therapist shopping right now and it’s so hard because the expense is intense for a young professional. And I’m also just so scared about actually, you know, having to talk to someone. Has anyone had a therapist that’s still in their master’s program and earning clinical hours?

    • Colleen says...

      I saw someone (covered by insurance) in a training/supervision-type group practice. I believe they were not a student, but still getting supervised hours required to obtain their license. I had a great experience! I continued with that therapist once they opened a private practice. I had to start paying out of pocket, sigh, but overall it was a great experience.

      And my mom, WHO HAS A COUNSELING DEGREE, was also really stressed that both my brother and I went to therapy. There must be some deep anxiety for parents at the idea of their kid talking to a stranger about their childhood (and critiquing their parents). I think she feels differently now that she sees what I’ve gotten from it, but interesting how deep that anxiety goes.

    • Rose says...

      Hi Anna! I’m a licensed therapist who has also been in a lot of therapy myself :) If you see someone who is still in their Master’s program, they will be under a LOT of supervision from experienced professionals, so that might make you feel a little more confident that you get good treatment! It also takes a few years after graduating from a Master’s program to get licensed- I had to collect 4000 clinical hours- so seeing a post-graduate, pre-licensed therapist is still a really great option and their rates are usually lower than someone who is fully licensed. Some pre-licensed therapists are better than people who’ve been licensed for years. Just depends on who is a good fit for you and their skills and personality :) Therapy can be really scary but also like taking a breath of fresh air. Sending you much luck <3

    • SARAH says...

      Hey there! I am a therapist in training at a training facility. Some of us have been at that facility for years because we need 3000 hours to be licensed in California. You will get all levels of experience but the price is affordable. We report to an experienced supervisor who advises us. Many of us are quite good at what we do and super passionate to boot! I highly recommend giving it a try.

      A client’s success in therapy rides heavily on their rapport with the therapist and less on what theory the therapist uses, what school they attended, or even how many years experience they have.

  66. Kim says...

    Love to see Haley here!!

  67. Riley says...

    I’m a psychotherapist and a patient myself (I’ve been in therapy off and on for 12 years now), and wanted to note that there are many different kinds of therapy and therapists. It’s really important to do some digging when you’re looking for a provider, and to get familiar with many of the approaches. Psychoanalytic work is very different than CBT is very different than EMDR… I could go on and on. Ask your prospective therapist questions! They should be able to talk about how they think and practice.

  68. Dylan says...

    I love Haley/Maybe Baby! I love CoJ! Worlds combining!!!!!
    You cannot put a price tag on therapy. For me, it is as necessary of an expense as my rent and my bills. Even though she does not take my insurance, I’m grateful that my therapist and I have worked out a sliding scale fee that works for us. I implore everyone all the time to make the commitment to the time it takes to find a therapist for you. I would be truly truly lost without it!

    • Sarah says...

      Yessss for sliding scales! My therapist no longer took my insurance when I had to switch, but I switched to twice a month and on a sliding scale, felt really worth it for me. And my mom luckily was wiling to chip in if I needed the help that month, which was so generous!

  69. caitlin says...

    As a therapist and person who has gone to therapy, I could not love this more. I would also add that in addition to observing patterns over time, journaling and therapy can be so helpful for gaining a little bit of space and distance from your thoughts/feelings. The act of saying something out loud or writing it down can help you look at/hear it more objectively. I find getting distance from our internal experiences to be one of the most powerful healing tools. One of my favorite therapy books, ‘The Happiness Trap’ explains this concept (and much more).

    • Sarah says...

      I so wish I had journaled while I was in therapy and the things I’d talked about, thought about, and learned. I think it would have been valuable for me to have the chance to look at again and reflect on. For my next go around of therapy then!

  70. Hannah says...

    I have a mother who is similar, and the biggest hurdle for me was to get over feeling as though I was disappointing her by going to therapy. She kept on telling me to come and talk to her instead. But I realized that I needed to do this independently and make the time for myself and my own health with an objective person. I went through 15 months of counseling about 8 years ago, and I’ve been back now since I feel like I hit a total wall in July. It starts off as a dam bursting for me and then slowly veers into self-discovery and healing. It’s the hardest and the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

  71. Robin says...

    I have mixed experiences. One counselor successfully helped me deal with a traumatic event (a man breaking in through my bedroom window while I was sleeping at night). Another one helped me through a stressful time at work, with just one session. I’ve also had negative experiences – I was turned away from the free mental health clinic because I wasn’t deemed to have big enough problems (four deaths in my immediate family in a span of three years; infertility). A phone-in counselor charged me an arm and a leg for 45 minutes of platitudes and inspirational quotes. Therapy has helped me with one-time traumatic events, but has not been helpful with ongoing events such as chronic illness and infertility. Since I’m not deemed fucked up enough for the free local therapy, I have to drive 400 km to access therapists in my nearest city. Access to therapy is certainly a privilege, which goes hand-in-hand with the slight insult that is is to advise someone to seek therapy. Just my rambling thoughts.

    • Wendela says...

      Robin: not sure whether this is still part of your life, but when I was dealing with infertility I found a support group for people dealing with infertility through Resolve.org and I highly recommend checking them out. It was a huge support and got me (& my partner) through a very thought time. (And I’m sorry you haven’t been able to find the support you need! I hope you will keep trying!)

  72. Erin says...

    I started therapy when I was pregnant with my second child because I wanted to avoid the hard post-partum anxiety issues I faced after my first. I have found it invaluable for: 1) providing me with better communication tools and having realistic expectations for people – which has been been incredibly instrumental in my marriage and relationships with family members; and 2) rewiring my brain to handle anxiety in new ways. I tend to catastrophize, and found that some very simple techniques (which after hearing thought “duh! why didn’t I think of that!:) helped me to reduce these unhelpful ways of thinking. I think so much about therapy too is finding the right person for you. So many people have a bad or unproductive first session that they give up. It’s kind of like finding the right friend…

  73. Meghan says...

    My mom used to tell me “when you turn 18, I’ll give you a list of all of the ways your mother screwed you up and you can take that to your first therapy appointment. I’ll end up saving you thousands of dollars, because most people spend years trying to figure out how their mother screwed them up in the first place!”

    It was said with a smile (and a usually a hug) and I find it to be, even today, a lovely and frank acknowledgement that we are all trying out best but, even so, can mess up and hurt the people we love without meaning to. And that we all have things that can be worked out in therapy! I’ve been twice (neither time motivated by my mother!) and have found it to be invaluable.

    • Maryn says...

      Okay, I love this. Marking this down to do with my own future kids—and hopefully with the same love your mom did. :)

    • Sarah says...

      I love this!T The other day, one of my coworkers was talking about how her husband acts with their 8th grade daughter (very strict, high standards, etc.) and it really resonated with my own upbringing. I semi-jokingly said eh well there’s always therapy once she’s left for college like I did! And a light bulb went off in my coworker’s eyes. Yes! therapy! If not now, definitely later. She’s from a culture that can frown upon seeing somebody for mental health, but it’s so important and she was so assured.

  74. Hilary says...

    I have a friend who says, “Sure, I’m looking for a guy who’s kind, smart, funny, attractive–but I’ll know he’s a possible keeper if he goes to therapy from time to time, just to be sure he’s working out his stuff well.”

    Normalizing therapy is SUCH an important thing!

  75. S. Gibson says...

    I recently went on a walk with a friend and mentioned how I was having a hard time and wished I could reconnect with my therapist. I told her that I was working to support my spouse right now and prioritizing their care financially because they are experiencing some acute family challenges and need to stay connected to their therapist in this season. We can’t afford for both of us to be in counseling, but I didn’t want his care to be interrupted. When I got home from our walk my phone buzzed and my friend had send me through Venmo me enough money for THREE sessions with my therapist — I stood in my kitchen and quietly cried.

    Therapy is so valuable, good friends are priceless.

    • Ari says...

      Wow, what a great friend.

    • Angela says...

      Oh that makes me cry! What a great friend. And you must be a loyal friend too.

  76. Capucine says...

    In what felt like an admittance of failure, I went to therapy. Pretty quickly it stopped feeling like defeat and instead felt like running around the block – same category as health-supporting and NBD.

    It was $120 an hour, and I had eight sessions. Once a week was better than once a month. When my husband became self-employed, we no longer had insurance nor the money to pay out of pocket. With Covid and the wildfire burning up my community at the moment, there have been more than a few times lately when I just wanted to go sit with that woman and be able to say out loud all the carefully edited emotions I’ve been concealing from my kids and husband as best I can for six months. I would say: I’m terrified of becoming my parents in old age, after just having them with me for two weeks when they evacuated from the fire. My husband is depressed and so am I, and I feel so guilty about that how affects my kids. My daughter just turned into a teen overnight and I suddenly miss her being small for the first time ever like a visceral yearning.
    And then the value comes, after I say all that out loud: my therapist’s perspective is never what I expect, and it always has the effect of reducing the vastness of a problem into something normalized and manageable instead of limitless, catastrophic and paralyzing.
    Somewhere along the way it suddenly felt clear to me: I’ll do whatever I must for my mental health for my family, leave no stone unturned. Studies all say therapy helps, so off I go. Exercise helps, so I do it every day. Eating whole foods helps, so that is what I eat. I don’t WANT to do any of those things, but life wasn’t feeling so great so I’m deferring to all the researchers and doing what they say helps.
    May you all be so blessed.

    • M says...

      Oh this comment ❤️ I resonate with so much of this. Please give yourself the grace you deserve and I hope you can find time and resources to care for your tender, amazing heart. I don’t know you but I sure hope the best for you!

  77. Andrea says...

    Therapy is hard to start, but is so helpful! If you like a therapist who doesn’t take insurance, you can ask if they have a sliding scale for fees. It’s how I was able to afford weekly group therapy for three years, and I’m so appreciative for the accommodation.

  78. Katie S. says...

    Maybe it’s a generational thing (I’m a Millennial) but myself and most of my coworkers/friends go to some type of therapy; grief counseling, couples counseling, personal therapy, etc. It’s pretty consistently a topic of conversation, no taboos or judgment, and it’s not uncommon to hear ‘The other day in therapy…’ or ‘Our couples counselor suggested…’ when hanging out.
    I would say therapy is one of the best ways you can practice self-care.

  79. M says...

    Thank you Haley! I love your writing.

    If you have the money, please support therapy for Black women and girls through The Loveland Foundation created by Rachel Cargle.
    https://thelovelandfoundation.org/ways-to-give/

  80. Hilary says...

    I did therapy through TalkSpace for awhile and it was even more helpful than I thought it would be since I best express myself through writing. I can spin out verbally, but writing it all down was great. It also let me go back and re-read things my therapist said to me while I was having an anxiety attack, which was comforting. It definitely got me through a hard transition period of my life and I’m forever grateful.

    In a different vein, I’m currently working with a Co-Active coach (a requirement because of my masters) and it’s life changing! She listens and does all the great things therapists do, but with the added benefit of moving me FORWARD, which I didn’t always find to be true in therapy. It’s allowed me to feel bigger and freer about my life as a whole, which has been incredible. Another good option for those interested in therapy but not sure if therapy itself is quite the right thing.

  81. Deb in Oklahoma says...

    I’ve had therapy and it helps on many levels. I’ve long thought that everybody—and I mean, everybody—needs therapy. And the people who think they, themselves, do not need it, are usually the ones that need it the most. Therapy is great.

    • Wendela says...

      Deb in Oklahoma- I was jumping in here to say the same thing—I completely agree!

  82. Heather Elyse Hawkins says...

    So looking forward to reading more of Haley Nahman here on CoJ!

  83. jdp says...

    my husband teaches third grade, now virtually out of our apartment because of covid. the other day i heard him check in individually over zoom with each of his students (he had headphones in). each one got the same thoughtful questions, how were they doing, what solutions could they come up with to problems encountered the first couple of weeks, what was their favorite reading spot, had they had any exercise that day, were they sleeping enough…to me, this is therapy. someone whose job it is to be present for you, really see you, listen to you, and discover solutions with you for even the simplest problems that can disrupt the quality of daily life. it’s just the greatest gift a person can give themselves (with the caveats mentioned above, sure), but when it works, it’s like a spa treatment for your emotional health. i wish every single person could have this kind of check-in, especially right now.

    • b says...

      I love this so much. Third grade can be a tough year – not a little kid anymore, but not quite a big fourth or fifth grader. Good on your husband for his attention to his students.

    • Betsy says...

      I so loved reading your comment. Kudos to your husband. Sounds like he is an amazing teacher.

      Therapy should be on everyone’s radar. No shame in the therapy game. Has saved me countless times from losing my shit! Such a great conversation to have especially in the age of Covid.

    • Capucine says...

      I cannot begin to articulate my gratitude for my children’s teachers and principals. I didn’t expect them to be my pillars for parenting in the post-apocalypse (we’ve got wildfires rendering many friends homeless right now in my town), but they are. The kindest, most compassionate people, all with their own kids underfoot, sitting there tending to my child’s feelings and experiences. Frankly, very little academic work has been at the fore so far, just patient emotional support and tech support, day after day. For EIGHT YEAR OLDS. I listen to kids talking about their burned down houses and how the great thing is they are evacuated with their cousin, the first live kid they have seen in six months so it is so fun except they are worried about mom who has a heart condition so is Covid risky and…I can’t even. I am in charge of two kids, your husband has several dozen, my daughter’s teachers have several hundred, and they are taking care of them all so beautifully. And I am so grateful.

    • Hayley says...

      Oh gosh, this is precious and valuable. Thank him for me, mom of a 2nd and 4th grader (well, 6th and 8th, too.). ❤️❤️❤️

  84. anje says...

    I heartily agree – therapy should be part of any health care plan.

    Years ago, I was broke, deeply struggling and totally over-whelmed, and realized I needed to get over my shame about checking out the state options (free-ish). When I did finally connect to a human and requested a therapy session the person on the line was immediately over-the-top sarcastic and said, “You want. . .to TALK??? We don’t do that here, we only prescribe drugs.” I was horrified, (and the entire AMA strategy as a drug cartel became crystal clear). After I calmed down I realized he was obviously full of rage and frustration. While that was no excuse to take it out on a “client” it was clearly a horrible position for any health care worker to be in. I didn’t need drugs and didn’t have money for a therapist. It was a hellish year and I had no support, which sucked.

    • Jenny says...

      A certain widespread health insurance plan HMO covers therapy only through their in house therapists and the wait times for an appointment are so long that they were fined by the state for inadequate access one time, and another time their staff went on strike to protest inadequate access.

    • Ana D says...

      Rhymes with “Kaiser Permanente”. I almost switched to them but realized how tragic it would be for my mental health. I have the unearned privilege of being able to prioritize care for my mental illness over the cost of my premiums and how close the hospital is to my house.

      Yes, oftentimes major insurers get mental health care completely wrong at terrible social cost, and state programs can be absolutely wrongheaded as well.

      There are often non-profit community-based therapy options with sliding scale rates, and now online options for therapy that vary in cost.

  85. Rachel says...

    I love counseling! It’s been hugely helpful to me in dealing with some family-of-origin issues, as well as singleness, grieving, moving… so many issues that are both ongoing and pop up! Something I’ve found incredibly helpful is taking detailed notes about certain interactions that are triggering – having a really specific example to go over with my counselor has helped a ton. As a Christian, finding a Christian counselor that can understand my background and also views the world through a lens of faith has been awesome. A lot of churches do have discounts, too. Shout out to fellow HSPs!

  86. I haven’t, but I do listen to every episode of Esther Perel’s ‘Where should we begin?’ …which feels like a mini therapy session every time (not to mention is totally fascinating)..highly recommend!

  87. Olivia says...

    Such a pleasant surprise seeing Haley/Maybe Baby featured here! Jo & team – please feature more Haley!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, she’s the best! more to come! xo

    • Meg says...

      The BEST surprise! <3

  88. Kristi says...

    I spent more than a decade thinking about counseling on and off but talking myself out of it because I wasn’t ready to spend the time or money. About a year and a half ago my anxiety and grief reached a point at which I knew I needed help. I’m so grateful that I was courageous enough to try it and that I found someone who I completely trust who has pushed me to grow in ways I couldn’t conceptualize before. One of the biggest ways that counseling has changed my life is that I feel like I know myself and can care for myself emotionally. And I just have to say that sometimes as an adult it is really nice to have and older, wiser person tell you that she’s proud of you and you’re doing a great job – an unexpected perk of counseling for me. :)

    • Em says...

      “I feel like I know myself and can care for myself emotionally.” <- This has been my experience in therapy as well, and it's like I didn't even know how much I DIDN'T have this before, until I did! I'm glad you've experienced this too Kristi.

  89. Sarah says...

    Can I also recommend couple’s therapy? My husband and I went prior to our wedding as a type of pre-marital counseling and it was SO incredibly helpful. As someone who hadn’t done therapy individually, it was a little easier to jump in with my partner.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s great to hear, Sarah! my friend goes to couples therapy with her husband and they go out to dinner afterward. they love it!

  90. After three years of wanting to do it, I finally have my first consultation with a therapist tomorrow! I really appreciated this post – is it weird that I’m excited for therapy?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      not weird at all!!! I just started therapy this winter and look forward to every session. it can feel so good!

    • Agnès says...

      No weird at all, you’re so lucky, it’s a gift to yourself. Maybe some days you will not be as excited, you might think you have nothing to say, you’re boring, etc but these will be the best sessions. The ones when you realldy want to cancel.

    • Kimberley says...

      Not at all!! I started therapy again at the beginning of lockdown (just a coincidence) and quite literally it was the highlight of my week for while there!

  91. Kelly says...

    Absolutely love Haley’s writing – great to see her featured here! Echoing many of the comments, I think therapy is incredibly valuable and I love that millennials are sharing more about going! Completely agree that therapist fit is so critical, it’s tough to keep therapist “dating” when you’re stressed out and exhausted but so worth it!

  92. A says...

    Yes yes yes yes YES to therapy.

    I started going to therapy when I realized that the compound emotions of unprocessed trauma were starting to build up and bust out in places I did not expect or want. But even after I was done with the thickest part of the “trauma work”, seeing a therapist has had a profoundly deep impact on my life in general. Even when you think you have nothing to talk about, it can be very healing to unload little stuff out into the universe to a completely objective party.

    One of the things that my therapist has said which is so simple but really moved me: “Would you think of, or criticize a friend’s pain in the same way that you react to your own?” The answer is of course not. We are much more severe on ourselves than we are to those we love. As a highly self-critical and motivated person, this flipped a switch in me to be more compassionate towards myself and to see myself as a friend on a true level. I often find myself thinking this question when I start down the rabbit hole of “should haves”.

  93. Lily says...

    My daughter was stillborn this year just before the pandemic. My husband and I were swimming in grief and found a therapist who was both a grief and child-loss specialist. We knew we had to go because we were so sad but now many months later it has revolutionized our entire relationship. Now I honestly think therapy is the highlight of my week sometimes, especially when so many people in our live are so afraid to talk about our loss- it’s scary and triggering- it’s so nice to have someone who just lets us speak about her without holding back.

    • BlueAlma says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Lily. What was your daughter’s name? What was she like? I’d love to hear, if you’re open to sharing. xoxo

    • Lily says...

      Aw Jo thanks so much for asking. I never knew her outside, but inside she was super active. She loved when I laid on my left side and she always woke up when I stopped walking. She was beautiful and reminded me a lot of her big brother. He is almost 4 and didn’t fully understand, but talks about her often still, rubbing my belly and saying, “mommy don’t worry we’ll put a new baby sister inside you soon.” Break my heart, he’s our light through it all. Him and our amazing therapist. I will say, having a therapist that truly knows your experiences is so important for trust and empathy rather than sympathy.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      She sounds wonderful, Lily. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Katey says...

      This is the most beautiful exchange I’ve witnessed in a long time. Humans are amazing. And though I’m definitely crying it’s partly because I’m also rejoicing over the immense–powerful– loving I just read.

      Thanks for modeling what we can be at the best of times.

  94. I appreciated this read so much. As a Korean-American woman, therapy is still very much of a taboo topic in my culture. I went against the grain and started couple’s therapy with my husband about 6 years ago, which led me to individual therapy because guess what I learned? It’s rarely a couple’s issue. Rather, we all bring our individual stuff to the mix- things we have not dealt with…let’s say forever for some of us. I still go and I can’t imagine without it. Some may think you should grow out of it, like a pair of old pants, like you’ve graduated from all your crap, but I think it grows with you. You might start with some troubles in your relationship or career, but then that may lead to more personal and deeper events like trauma during your childhood, and then that may lead you to unlearn and heal…etc. A good therapist will coach you to grow and there is progress. Sometimes that progress though is not linear so we may feel like nothing is changing. But it is, just give it space and be open to what change may look like.

  95. SRH says...

    I tried therapy so many times but due to financial restrictions was getting whatever the ‘cheapest’ version was–the youngest therapist at the office who was still in training, the free career therapist offered at work, online therapy. None of it was helping. Then I went to a grad school that happened to offer free therapy from some really high-grade professional therapists hosted on-site. At the same time, I went through two big life crises, including the sudden death of my father. I would not have graduated without the support of the therapist.
    My point is: I think it’s really important to try and find a therapist that has the right experience and fits with you. If you have big problems and can only afford the cheapest option, it may not be worth trying.

    • Robin says...

      I second this… I wasted two sessions with 2 different therapists on a search for the right therapist, which is essentially hundreds of dollars down the drain just trying to find someone I connect with. Neither of them helped me. It’s certainly an expensive risk to take, trying to find a therapist. You have to hope for the right therapist the first time, which can be tough if you don’t have much money or live in a small town with limited options.

    • Mary says...

      SRH, I absolutely understand that therapy is a financial commitment, and it really sucks to feel like you wasted time and money. On top of that, the decision to seek therapy in the first place is a hard one, and having to “try out” multiple counselors is exhausting. I’m sorry that was your experience and I am so glad you found someone who was effective.

      I am currently in the clinical portion of my Master’s program, though, so I also have some empathy for the “cheap” therapists you mentioned. :) I am spending a ton of time doing research and treatment planning, trying to help my clients and give them the absolutely best help I can. But I also recognize that I’m pretty new at this and have a longgg way to go. Those seasoned professionals developed their skills by seeing hundreds of clients and logging thousands of hours. Everyone starts as a newbie. :) Just wanted to offer that perspective.

    • Erberb says...

      I went to a psychiatrist as a teen because I developed PTSD after a trauma. My brain chemistry was bad and the medications really got me right.

      Since then I’ve tried therapy a few times when that trauma has resurfaced or when I’ve been generally sad or angry. But I feel like I don’t really get it, and I stop going after a couple sessions. What are you supposed to talk about and how does one make progress? Are they planning sessions like here are the things you need to do to work toward your goals? And they an opportunity just to say out loud what bothers you and why? How do you know when you’ve solved something or are done enough to stop? Everyone always says “go to therapy” but I’m so curious about what you actually do there specifically.

    • Robin says...

      Erberb, I went to therapy to deal with a traumatic event. It was fabulous, the goal was to reduce my fearful reaction when triggers happened (ex: nighttime when I hear a scary sound which could be an intruder). The therapist gave me journaling exercises, specific methods to calm myself when I was getting triggered/fearful, and of course a space to say whatever I needed to say. I think it was called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Every night for about six weeks I’d set aside 15 minutes to work on whatever exercises she gave me that week, and in 6 weeks I felt that I didn’t need her assistance anymore – I had the strategies to cope on my own, without therapy (which was the ulimate goal).

  96. katie says...

    Therapy was the best investment I made on myself. I started seeing a therapist for a specific issue but continued going long after that was resolved. Therapy made me feel lighter, freer. For instance, I always felt like I was being judged and because of that, I was so afraid to make mistakes and look stupid that I wasn’t living my full life. She helped me realize that people have their own shit so stop worrying so much. I am shy and used to have trouble speaking up for myself. No longer. She gave me the skills I needed to properly communicate with people in a way that felt authentic and empowering. We also talked a lot about relationships and how to navigate difficulties. I also have this sneaky suspicion that I wouldn’t have ended up marrying the person I did if it weren’t for her. Through our talks, I figured out what was truly important to me.

    I think most people could benefit from a therapist.

  97. Elizabeth says...

    I went to therapy after my divorce because, as I told the therapist, even through I have every right to be an angry bitter woman that’s not who I want to be. I also felt I had to be positive for my two children. I found being able to say the dark ugly things I needed to say freeing and she had very practical advise about how to move through those feelings. Though as another poster noted it is exhausting, I describe it as “feeling raw” when I was done with a session. Having a plan for how to deal with that makes a huge difference. The first time I made it through a session without crying I knew I was going to be ok and finished shortly after that.

  98. Elisabeth says...

    Mollie, great advice! Just wanted to add that, in the US, state licensing laws limit where we therapists can practice — so with telehealth, you can see anyone in your state (not in the whole US). Different Canadian provinces and of course different countries have different rules, so it depends on where you are. :)

  99. Kellu says...

    Love Haley!! So excited to see her on CoJ!

  100. Elizabeth says...

    I am a huge proponent of therapy! I agree 1000% with what Haley said about accessibility to it – it’s insane how costly it is. Sometimes I think about how much more flexibility I would have without that cost in my regular budget but I don’t feel ready to leave and it’s worth cutting out other things to me to make it work.

    I have been seeing the same provider for several years and got lucky on the first try, so I won’t pretend to know how to figure this out now, but I will offer a couple other thoughts:
    – I second another reader’s recommendation for Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – I think it does a really good job of showing how therapy typically works
    – when you are working with someone (new or later on), write down thoughts you want to bring up throughout the week. Similarly, I jot things down during my session sometimes – and now that I’ve been doing it all via video for almost 6 months, I have been stopping to write a few thoughts down after each session before I return to work which is helpful both as a calm transition and to look back on what I’m learning and how I’m growing.
    – I occasionally email my therapist in advance of an appointment – not all the time but sometimes it feels helpful to say “heads up, I’m coming in really needing to address an argument with a close loved one that happened yesterday” or something like that. I would ask therapists you’re considering what their take is on that kind of thing and/or if they have other preferred modes of communication, especially as you are starting out.

    I could go on and on but in sum: I think this is really, really important and I’m glad you’re thinking seriously about trying therapy. My best to you in this process.

  101. Tara says...

    Haleeeey!!! I love her newsletter and I’m even a paid subscriber to her advice column. She is such a lucid and sharp writer, seeing her write more frequently on CoJ would be a dream.

  102. YRC says...

    As a therapist myself and someone who has been in therapy since college, I wholeheartedly agree with this post and support therapy for everyone. The world would be a better place if everyone understood themselves better (their fears, hopes, insecurities) and were also willing to explore and challenge their thinking and assumptions on a regular basis. Therapy provides exactly this in a safe space, as mentioned in the post. There are plenty of great therapists out there, but the key is finding a good fit for you (I liken it to dating!) — if at first you don’t find the right therapist, don’t give up on therapy, just keep searching for the right one for you!

  103. OO says...

    I subscribed to Haley’s newsletter (only $5/mo!) and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s become my Sunday morning ritual to enjoy it in my robe over coffee and a crepe. :)

    • L says...

      Same (minus the crepe which I now want to add to my routine)!

  104. J says...

    I’ve done therapy for a few years, but it’s been hard to find a good match. I need my therapist to genuinely enjoy talking to me or I can’t share. I need some feeling that they like me and really care, though I get that this would be hard to pull off! I’ve had a few therapists get frustrated with me when I try their suggestions that don’t work (one insisted I must fall asleep listening to one of those guided meditations that have you imagine you’re alone on a beach…it made me feel like the last person on earth and I would get really sad!). I’ve probably had as many sessions end with me feeling worse as I’ve had leave me feeling better! I have to keep trying, but it hasn’t been as helpful as I wish for it to be. Maybe my therapist soul mate is out there somewhere :)

    • Katie says...

      I’m just curious, but when you try a new therapist do you share your experiences with previous therapists and your for desires therapy? Through my first therapist I found out what I I didn’t like, and before I started with my second I let her know in detail over the phone what I wanted/expected out of therapy and my preferred style of working, and then asked if she could provide that. I think this set a really good foundation for us to work together. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

    • Cate says...

      Hi J! I think your therapy soulmate is definitely out there! It is not too much to ask that you feel genuinely cared for and listened to by your therapist – and you should feel like they want to talk to you! I agree with Katie’s comment. I am a therapist AND I have been on the other side of the therapy-client relationship. As a therapist I love it when my clients can tell me about what has/has not worked for them in the past and what they are looking for in a therapist, even if it is something like “I want to feel like you genuinely care about me.” As a client, I had several poor matches which are so hard and awkward, but I finally found my soulmate! It really is a lot like dating. Good luck!

  105. Rachel says...

    Love that you are starting this conversation on Cup of Jo! Going to therapy is still stigmatized and this type of post/conversation can help reduce the stigma and make therapy more accessible.

    I first went to therapy in 4th grade for social anxiety and have gone on-and-of throughout my 20’s. Now I AM a therapist!! So, yes, I’m a big fan of therapy. Through a friend, I found an art therapist who I’ve been seeing since the Spring. A helpful way to find a therapist is via word of mouth. If a friend knows someone or has gone to someone they can give an insider’s perspective on the therapist’s style, which makes a big difference!

  106. Erin G. says...

    Love this post. I started therapy about 18 months ago after finishing stories for decades with, “Well, it’s just fodder for therapy one day!” I now simply wish I’d started 20 years ago. It has been a transformative experience. Two people in my life commented to me after I’d been going for a handful of months (at which point only my partner knew I was going) that I’d “changed” somehow. I knew exactly what they meant and was heart warmed to see it was evident to those I loved. Therapy has made me calmer, more patient with myself and others, more curious, and just a better person overall. It’s a journey worth embarking on. (And for the commenters asking about finding a therapist: I used the “find a therapist” tool on Psychology Today, used a lot of filters to get to what I wanted, then phone interviewed the three people that I thought might be a match. I knew within two minutes of talking to my therapist that she was the one, and I’m very lucky that has turned out to be true!)

  107. Ashley says...

    I’ve been going to therapy for 4 years now and I’m so happy with who I’ve grown into being. I was diagnosed with PTSD and working through that diagnosis has changed my life in such a monumental way. I’m very aware of my triggers and working with a therapist who specializes in EMDR has made my diagnosis a very tiny fraction of who I used to be. I highly recommend EMDR for anyone that’s gone through any trauma. And just so you know, might not even realize you’ve gone through something traumatic! I certainly had no idea that I would end up with PTSD as a diagnosis. When we live every day with our history it seems normalized until we know differently.

    I also phone screened therapists and actually ended up seeing someone different at first before choosing the one that’s been with me for years. So be prepared to “date around” until you find the right person.

    The last thing that I want to call out is that I’ve known people who haven’t wanted to go to therapy because of the people they know who have been to therapy. Their reasoning is often because that person “hasn’t changed” or it “didn’t work for them.” Hell, I ran from it for a long time because I didn’t want to be like my mother. Having this thought just hurts you in the long run. You get what you put into it, just like anything else. Don’t let your assumptions about someone else’s experience determine what’s best for you.

    If you’re struggling and scared to go to therapy I would tell you that you’re braver than you think you are. The life you want for yourself is ready for you to take as long as you make the first move.

    • Katie S. says...

      I have wanted to try EMDR for a long time now! Can I ask how you found a therapist who specialized in that? Also, is that something you can do virtually or do you have to be in person for it to work?

  108. Chiara says...

    I started therapy at a super low point. I was post partum with my second, my relationships with a bunch of people in my life (including my mom) had completely changed since becoming a mother and I was always worried I was messing everything up and not maturing. Add to that some mild PPA, and not sleeping enough because of it (with the new baby). I found someone and we clicked and she spent a year helping me find myself and then graduated me. Such an amazing experience. I don’t go regularly amnymore, but set up a session when I have tricky things come up in life and I’m not sure how to go forward. My partner is intensely logical and sometimes I find it helpful to hash out all my emotional reactions with her so that I can come back to him and talk things through. When my third baby was in the NICU, I really didn’t know how to talk about my fears with him. Seeing my therapist let me get all the tangle of emotions out and I was able to have an amazing conversation with my partner after.

    I was really lucky I connected with the first one I met. I emailed a bunch of people before I started and chose the person with the lowest fees. I also stalked her internet presence and loved what I saw her posting on her public FB page, which helped me think we would get along.

  109. Sara says...

    I’ve been in therapy twice now. My first lightbulb therapy moment was describing a certain romantic situation as a train wreck and they said “why don’t you just get off the train?” So simple, but I was like OH! Yes, I can get off the train.

    I’m in therapy now for chronic illness. I tried to cope on my own for the first year, but I finally felt like anger about it was seeping into every part of my life and I don’t want to be that angry person. Therapy has helped me work out that it’s okay to be angry, but I need to feel the anger at the source, and work on not bottling it up and having it explode at something unrelated. A work in progress, but I feel much calmer overall. My therapist focuses on patients with chronic illness, so it’s nice to talk to someone about my medications and doctors visits and they actually know what I’m talking about and have other patients going through the same thing. It can feel really lonely, so even the therapist telling me that they know their other patients feel the same way is helpful sometimes.

  110. Kate says...

    In mid-July, my boyfriend went to visit family in Dubai. I’d been unofficially living with him but paying rent on my empty apartment since January and had given notice to end my lease as of August 1st. So we were officially living together as of that date.

    But he extended his trip…and then extended his trip…he started communicating less and less. He finally told me he has no feelings for me anymore. And as of September 1st, I moved out and onto my friend’s couch. What a change. I have no idea when he will be back, but to go from living with someone who was so wonderful to being dumped over the phone (not even on Facetime) by someone who refused to come home was quite a shock to my system. Along with the support of my loved ones, I’m finding therapy very helpful right now.

  111. K says...

    I love Haley’s newsletter and I’m so happy to see her here! I found a therapist last year (a referral from a work friend who has a similar cultural background to me) and am going for the first time in my adult life. It’s not easy (I have a lot of anxiety about even going to therapy sometimes lol) and has been a slow process but it has been incredibly rewarding. It’s given me a lot of tools to better understand myself and manage my emotions and anxiety.

  112. Yes! My therapist noted that I “came into this world feeling much more than most people.” As an avid non-feeler, this BLEW MY MIND. I’ve spent most of my life trying really hard to NOT feel, and generally think of myself as fairly emotion-less – except for those extreme breakdowns I have every few months when everything I’ve been suppressing bursts to the surface. Her observation made sense of all the disparate parts of my personality that I was never able to reconcile before. I learned that I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person) and studied the book by Elaine Aron to accompany my therapy sessions. It was hard work facing the realities I never knew about myself, but I grew so much as a result!

  113. Ya even I was thinking of meeting a therapist.. Really need it in my life right now.. Your articles helped me to clear doubts if I should visit or not.. and I guess a therapy would certainly help me now. Thanks.

  114. celeste says...

    I went for 3 years after my mother died. I was 18. Nothing but just time helped in the long run, but I’m glad my dad paid the bills.

    • Robin says...

      “Nothing but time helped in the long run”… so true. We need space from our traumatic experiences in order to heal from them, and honestly we never get over the loss of our loved ones, time just softens the blow. This is why I’m somewhat skeptical of therapy as an answer to everything.

    • Agnès says...

      Hi Robin, therapy is not an answer, you’re the one who, through a therapist, works on yourself. It might not help to feel less pain (especially if you grieve), but it will help you express that pain freely and live with it.

    • Robin says...

      Hi Agnes, I suppose what I meant is that when I talk about my losses to people, often they quickly jump to “try therapy!” as an answer/response to my sharing of my grief and loss. Yes, therapy is definitely helpful to some people in some circumstances, but it isn’t helpful in all circumstances. I feel that the cessation of ongoing trauma is the most important part of getting better, and that time needs to go by (years, decades) before acute grief starts to recede. Yes, therapy may be helpful in those painful years of ongoing trauma and acute grief.

  115. Molly says...

    Have been seeing a therapist in and off since having kids. I recently started going back when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died a year ago this Sunday and I’m so glad I’ve continued to see my therapist.
    My dad, on the other hand, like many in his generation, doesn’t like the idea of a therapist so he wouldn’t go. But recently he has been seeing a “life Coach” who used to be a therapist who is helping him think through life and career goals and the future, etc. haha. Ok dad, you get on with your bad self and your “non-therapist.” 😘

  116. R says...

    I literally just finished my first therapy session minutes before I clicked over to COJ to find this serendipitous article waiting for me. It was just an initial meeting but she validated my feelings and made me feel like I wasn’t complaining (a fear I have when venting to my friends). I’m getting this care thru my health care provider for a $20 copay and have made it a goal for September (and hopefully beyond) to take active steps towards working on my mental health. I’m so tired of feeling sad and lonely and I’m gonna at least try to do something about it.

  117. Annie K. says...

    Yes, Haley!

    In response to your mom’s response, I’ve heard many stories of parents reacting similarly to the idea of their adult child seeking therapy. I think there’s often a subconscious fear that if their kid is seeking therapy, it means the parent f’ed up, as well as that good ol’ zoomed out perspective you describe in which they see that their kid is awesome and killing it in life, “why would you need therapy.”

    Let’s all do therapy and live better lives. I have my shit together and love going to therapy. It should be a part of a regular health plan, like having a primary doctor. I would bet my savings that healthcare costs would go down overall.

    • Molly says...

      I’m already saving up for my kids therapists. I put a dollar in a jar every time I lose it with them. Seriously.

  118. Anne says...

    I love Haley Nahman’s newsletter Maybe Baby! Glad you featured her and I love the way she frames therapy.

    I’ve been doing virtual therapy this year and it’s been a wonderful way to process the dumpster fire that is 2020. I tend to talk myself out of having feelings (classic people pleaser!) and it’s validating to hear from my therapist that all of my feelings are valid. It’s a great way to talk through conversations I want to have with my partner so that I can communicate more effectively in my relationship, too.

    My partner has been in therapy this year as well and it has been truly transformative for our relationship! We have grown so much together, are so much more aware of the baggage we bring into our conflicts, etc. Such a gift.

  119. Lauren E. says...

    I went back to therapy last year and it’s been game changing. I’m cynical (thanks, mom and dad) and my therapist said this:

    Does it hurt any less if you keep your expectations low?

    And you know what? It sure doesn’t.

  120. Dina says...

    Thank you for the post!
    I started therapy a little over a month ago and I can already relate to almost all the things Haley mentioned.
    The simple act of talking through all the things that keep you anxious really does help a lot. I also feel that therapy takes a lot of emotional burden off my husband because I don’t expect him to solve my emotional problems for me anymore.
    I have to say, though, there are some sessions that leave you exhausted. To make sure I continue with my day and don’t overanalyze the session, I came up with a little positive routine (a smoothie + a nice walk) that I do right after the session, as a kind of reward for myself for showing up and working on my emotions.

    • Ashley says...

      I love what you said about taking the emotional burden off of your husband. Our friends and loved ones want to help us but are often dealing with their own things and so it can be a lot to take on someone else’s issues and theirs at the same time. I think of therapy as filling up my cup so that I can be there to support the people I love.

      And +1 to a post-therapy routine! You’re so right that it can take a lot out of you so knowing how you’re going to re-enter your life afterwards is so important. I often go for walks or even have wine nights scheduled with my friends. That way I’m jumping into something that either gives me space or makes me happy.

  121. CT says...

    I completely agree! I have paused therapy after a really useful 18 months of examining my life growing up and how it impacts on me now. My husband was asking me last night about how much it was advice vs talking or what and I got very emotional explaining how I’d been able to have a very normal reaction to a very slightly challenging question he’d asked me earlier in the evening. My therapist is an older woman who had had 4 kids and sometimes gave me the kind of parenting advice that my mum can’t give. It was hard to get from thinking about going to actually going to therapy, but it has been so worthwhile.

  122. Gaby says...

    Good timing! I just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and am reading the book club post and comments this morning. I was originally planning to finally start therapy in March when the incoming pandemic was making my anxiety go haywire. I put it off once social distancing started and my anxiety has been much more manageable since then. Reading the book made me decide now is a perfect time to start as I am pregnant and becoming a Mom for the first time in November. I think if I start now I’ll be comfortable and have a great additional support for a huge life change in an already unprecedented year.

  123. I’ve been a champion of therapy since my early 20’s…I’ve battled depression starting during my teenage years. It was only during my early 20’s that I saw a therapist and uttering certain words and hearing myself release my thoughts was life changing. I grew up in a household that never talked about mental health (or mental illness). I am determined to break this cycle and normalize conversations around mental health. GO THERAPY!!!

  124. AM says...

    I tried to go to therapy but didn’t click with my therapist – it didn’t feel like she really understood me. Do folks have advice on how to pick a therapist? How long should you give it before you decide it isn’t working? This therapist wanted me to have specific goals for therapy, whereas I just wanted an outlet – is her approach typical?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      In my experience, therapists have had really different styles. Some have goals especially if you do CBT. Other times they are there as a sounding board. I think it’s just like dating, you have to find somebody you have a good chemistry with. I tried out five (!) therapists in the fall and none of them clicked, and then finally I found someone the winter who I really adore. It’s worth trying out people until you find a match. Curious to hear from others!

    • Molly says...

      I went to a few before I found the right one. Retrospectively, I’m not sure if she was really *the right one* or so f I was finally ready to do the work. Probably a combination. Also, I discovered enneagram. And while I’m no hard-core enneagram person and my therapist is not a guru in it, we both get the basics and figuring out my number has helped us make major strides.

    • AE says...

      It’s interesting you say that because my current therapist- whom I adore- acts an outlet but A.I. for sure wishes she had me be more goal oriented.

    • El says...

      This sounds like a random suggestion, but the YA book “Who Put this Song On” by Morgan Parker has, hands down, the best advice about seeking a therapist I’ve ever read. Parker puts this at the end of the book, like an appendix, and it’s just very straightforward and useful. She even has an example email she sends to potential therapists! Such a good resource.

      (Morgan Parker is also an incredible poet, and her YA book is a delight even if you’re not in the market for a therapist.)

    • Mollie says...

      I think it’s worth asking someone their general philosophy, along with the style that Joanna mentioned. I saw two different CBT therapists. One had a very cut + dry, put your mind to it, be disciplined and strict with yourself, kind of attitude toward life. That did NOT work for me because I already do that, and it just made me harder on myself. My current therapist also does CBT but she is extremely loving, kind, and accepting. Our biggest work is not on CBT techniques, but really on accepting whatever feeling I’m having in the current moment, recognizing my thoughts as separate from reality, and also practicing mindfulness techniques. I stopped seeing her at the beginning of the pandemic (most of my anxiety has centered on my teaching job, and we moved remote at that time), but I still use so many of those techniques. I may pick back up soon, but it is expensive!

    • Steph says...

      I would give it a couple sessions. It could help to ask about their theoretical approach to therapy and how the goals mandate fits in to that. Even if you don’t go back, you may learn that that particular orientation is not what you want.
      I’m a therapist, and when friends or family ask me if they should “talk to someone” the first thing I always tell them is that they can try it on and there is no obligation to continue. You can have a single visit with someone. You can spend six months talking weekly and then hit pause. Or you can do a monthly checkin indefinitely. A good therapist will help you determine what fits in your life and when therapy isn’t effective anymore (be that as an outlet, a goal-oriented program, recovery from a specific trauma, etc.).

    • Rachel says...

      Hi Am,
      I am a therapist myself and the number one advice I give to friends or family thinking about seeing a therapist is shop around and listen to your gut! There is a WIDE field of theoretical orientations (CBT to psychoanalysis and everything in between) and personalities out there. Finding someone you click with is so important to the development of trust and having a productive relationship.
      My first time in therapy lasted a year and I never quite clicked with my therapist but I kept telling myself that my lack of comfort with her was my problem/fault and she was good enough. I just needed to make it work. After a year I realized that I needed to listen to this feeling and ended with her. A few months later I tried again, shopping around this time and ended up finding someone who was a MUCH better fit for me. I realized that I hadn’t been wrong to want something better and that it was actually possible to have a deeply trusting relationship with a therapist. I’m two years in with my current therapist and am thankful to have found something me right for me.
      Proud of you for trying something new and asking questions and listening to yourself when it didn’t feel right!

    • Ashley says...

      I definitely think phone screening is a must. You can get a feel for them over the phone and discuss what you want to get out of your sessions. When I initially looked for a therapist I phone screened for compatibility but didn’t know what I wanted out of it so ended up with a therapist who wasn’t the right match. When I started to look again, I had a better idea of what I was looking for and have been with the same person for 4 years now.

      I probably saw my initial therapist about 4 times before I wanted to stop seeing her so it could take a few sessions. She was definitely more into giving me an outlet and I didn’t want just the outlet. I knew I had somethings that needed working so had to find someone who had more of an actions based approach.

    • Amo says...

      I started seeing a wonderful therapist at the end of the college who said that I should feel understood and hopeful after the first time meeting with her and if I didn’t, it probably wasn’t the best fit. I’ve found this advice so helpful when trying to find other therapists since.

    • Sarah says...

      I knew I wanted a therapist who specialized in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) because I had read up on the style and it resonated with me. You can do some research on different approaches and then try to go from there!

    • Lora says...

      Hey AM! As a psychologist, this is the advice I give my friends (and clients) when they are looking for a therapist (or starting therapy with me): give it 2 to 3 sessions and if it doesn’t feel like it’s clicking, move on. It’s helpful to try more than one session (unless you absolutely hate them) because the first session (which is often about gathering basic information) is usually different from follow-up sessions. But if you don’t connect after a couple sessions, it’s best to explore other providers. From a research standpoint, the most important factor in effective therapy is strong rapport between the client and the therapist. A good therapist will understand that and support your move to someone else so you can channel your resources most effectively. Also know that it is normal to try out several providers – one of my professors told me that on average, people try about 4 therapists before finding the one they keep! Also, Joanna is absolutely right – CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) providers are more likely to be goal oriented though how that feels can vary from provider to provider. If you want more of a therapeutic outlet, I would recommend looking for a therapist who uses words like relational, collaborative, client centered etc. in their description of their practice.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “one of my professors told me that on average, people try about 4 therapists before finding the one they keep!” – that’s so interesting, lora!

    • L says...

      Hi AM, This is the advice I share with all my friends for finding a therapist:

      1. Psychology Today is a great website that allows you to see many therapists in your area at once. It’s almost like online dating bc the therapists list their bio, approach to therapy, specialities, photo, insurance or costs, and anything else they think is important.
      2. Usually from there I narrow it down to like 4-5 folks who “could be” right. I reach out to them ALL (phone message or email). In my experience, a good therapist -who also has openings in their book- will get back to you within 48 hours or less (usually same day). Usually after this stage, my 4-5 prospects is down to 1-2.

      3. They should also have a free phone consult available where you can hear more about their approach and also tell them what you are looking for and what approach you think may suit you best.

      4. I also always ask my therapist-to-be if they are in therapy! For me, it’s a red flag if the therapist themselves does not think they need therapy.

      I have definitely started to see a therapist and after 1-2 sessions still realized it was not a good fit. But overall I find this method/questions to really work for me and I love my current therapist.

  125. C says...

    Wow, perfect timing for this post. I just started going to therapy again and have been thinking of the CoJ community. My partner has been struggling with severe depression recently and I have in turn been struggling trying to be supportive. I suddenly found myself as this liaison for his family to see how he is doing and wanting to protect him from everything. At our first session, my therapist asked how long I’ve been having signs of depression and I just started crying. I didn’t even realize it had triggered all of these things in me. I thought I was going to learn how to be a better partner, but she pointed out that starts with looking after myself. I had been so happy with how I had been managing my own anxiety disorder of late and I hadn’t realized where all of this had brought me – and SO suddenly. I would love a post on being a partner of someone with depression. Gosh it’s hard. And scary to watch them go through this and feel helpless and at the will of their emotions. Therapy though… honestly I probably would have never stopped going if it was covered by my insurance. Sending love to all of you particularly during these tough times <3

    • Ar says...

      My partner has depression and a if part of why the rap is helpful for me is learning how to be supportive without being consumed By his struggles or without taking it on/ letting it sink me. He refuses to go to therapy (cultural— I think men, especially in certain communities, have SUCH a hard time asking for help) but I think he’d benefit tremendously.

    • Elisabeth says...

      Hi C. Emily Henderson had an excellent long blog about being the partner to a person with depression, and her husband I believe also wrote an excellent post about being the depressed person in the relationship and his therapy journey. I’m sure if you search her blog, you’ll find them.

  126. Kari says...

    I’d love to hear how people find the right therapist for them. I’ve tried three different ones in the last few years and never really clicked with any of them. Would love suggestions from others on how to find the right fit!

    • Liz says...

      I am interested in this as well.

    • Meg says...

      Perhaps research different types/modalities of therapy a bit. The website Psychology Today is helpful for this (for example: CBT, DBT, psychodynamic, trauma-informed, IFS, existential). If there is one that feels more interesting to you, use the “Find a Therapist” tool on Pyschology Today to filter by therapists who practice that modality. Then, set up a call with 2-3 and ask them some questions. It’s okay to be pointed like, “here is my issue, what would working on this issue look like with you?”

      From there I think it’s just an intuition thing. Think, “does it feel like this person will GET ME?” You want to feel seen and understood, that’s where the healing lies.

  127. B says...

    Side question – how do you find a good therapist? There aren’t many that are covered by my insurance and paying for them out of pocket isn’t an option. And I had a poor experience with the first and only one that I tried, so now I’m loath to try it again.

    • CT says...

      I got a recommendation from a friend who asked another friend who he was seeing. It has turned out well, although not perfectly. There are often also services where you can go for a kind of matching session. One in the city I live in works by having an actual therapy session with a therapist who explores what you want to do in therapy etc. At the end you pay what you want to pay for ongoing sessions and they match you with someone in your price range and who they think will work best with you. If you don’t like them they will rematch. I didn’t know about it so I didn’t use it, but if I were to do it again I would go that route.

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      Many therapists offer a sliding scale if you ask them! They might not advertise it but often offer it if you ask.

      I always do a lot of research first to read descriptions of their approach, what they specialize in, and any reviews of the practice if available. Good luck!

    • Calla says...

      I had this problem too. I live in San Francisco and while I’m sure there are many good therapists, there were only a handful who take my insurance and even fewer who were taking new clients when I was looking (pre-pandemic). There ended up being only one that ever responded to my inquiries and it wasn’t a great fit. I’ve been kind of down on the idea since then since paying out of pocket is out of the question for me financially.

    • Nathalie says...

      Ask for recommendations from someone whose opinion you trust!
      I chose my first therapist based on location and stopped after a couple sessions because it was disheartening. Years later I tried again with someone recommended by my GP and it was a wonderful experience! I think my GP could be objective about who was a good fit for me – whereas I wouldn’t trust recommendations from my sister (however much I love her) because we have such different processes.

    • Calla says...

      @CT wow what a cool idea! seems a lot easier to find a good fit if you can compare experiences side by side rather than go through the whole tedious process of making an appointment several times.

  128. Stella says...

    Oh Haley, ilysm! If you like delightful surprises to help treat your Sunday scarier, please subscribe to her newsletter!! Better yet, become a paying subscriber, it’s so worth it. 🥐

  129. emily says...

    I’ve been to three therapists. They were all not the right fit for different reasons. Unfortunately, I’ve given up the motivation to keep searching. There are almost no therapists in my area who are taking new patients and accept my insurance, and have availability that isn’t something like 9:30 AM on a Tuesday. It’s frustrating (I compare it to online dating, which I also hate!). Maybe one day I’ll pick it up again. For now, I rely on Zoloft alone.

    To those who have found their therapists, and truly like working with them, congrats! I know how hard it is.

    • Calla says...

      Same thing here, I kind of am just holding out hope that one day I’ll make enough money to pay out of pocket and can try again.

    • Mollie Whalen says...

      With Zoom therapy, you can basically meet with anyone in the country (if you’re able to pay for it). I LOVE my therapist, but she is $150 an hour. If you go every other week it helps to be more affordable. If you want her name, I could email you! She does CBT therapy, but also helps with thinking a bit about your childhood, where you feelings come from, and also just a lot of mindfulness work.

    • Christina says...

      I do therapy through televideo, and I am sure it’s not perfect for everyone, but I find it gives me SO much more flexibility as far as the time (I can do it on my lunch break when I am working from home, for instance) and the pool of people you can meet with is so much bigger than if you need someone in a specific geographic area. I use a service through my insurance that has a list of approved therapists, and the copay is very reasonable. I’m not sure if other policies have a similar thing, but I have that same thing of low motivation, and if the barriers to entry are lower it’s just much easier to do.

    • Sandra Lashley says...

      If you are interested in a psychodynamic, exploratory therapy many psychoanalytic institutes offer reduced and very low fee therapy. All the therapists are likely licensed and highly trained.