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Beginning Therapy

One of the more challenging aspects to beginning therapy is that, even after you have made the decision to give it a try and have picked someone out, sometimes the fit isn't there. This leads to some common conclusions:

  1. Therapy isn't the answer for me.

  2. I gave it a real chance, but it didn't work.

  3. It didn't work because something is wrong with me.

  4. All therapists are more or less be the same.

  5. I'm unhelpable.

It is far more difficult to choose a therapist than it is many other professional services, like your laundromat or body shop. In the first place, there may be a lot of uncertainty in your life at the moment, making even simple decisions seem difficult.

Secondly, the quality of the service, or of the provider, is not immediately obvious. A laundromat lists its services and states its price; it is easy for me to tell whether my clothes have been dry-cleaned to my satisfaction. The change that occurs in therapy is more difficult to judge. A good deal of faith must be placed in the process, and we are understandably uncomfortable with that.

When people ask me if they should leave their current therapist, I usually ask two questions:

  1. Is it easy to talk to him/her?

  2. Do you still feel that you need help?

If the answer is:

Yes/Yes - I recommend staying and surfacing this issue with the therapist.

Yes/No - This is a personal choice for whether you would like to stay even though it is no longer a necessity at the moment. I am a big believer in preventative care, but I also value my money.

No/Yes - I recommend switching, and mention that switching is one of the harder things to do, because it feels like starting over. If you are uncomfortable bringing up your displeasure about the therapy in the therapy, though, it is time to look elsewhere.

No/No - Might be a good time to see what it is like without therapy for a while. If you decide to return, perhaps try someone new.

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