Column: Is therapy a bad word in your house?


If you bring up the words therapy or counseling, what is your initial reaction? What about your family or spouse? Do you think the world would be a better place if everyone experienced therapy? It can heal hurting people, families and relationships. Instead of externalizing their happiness such as having the most beautiful house, car or face, they would learn to get it from within. Depression, anxiety and addictions would decrease. Communication would improve. Perhaps we would hurt others and ourselves less.

There used to be a stigma associated with getting help and therapy. More recently, that has started to change. It’s becoming more acceptable as people share their experiences.

It seems as if people want to become a better version of themselves and live a more peaceful and happy life. They may want to reduce their feelings of anxiety or depression. Or, they need some direction on how to handle difficult situations and challenging relationships.

At first, it may feel strange telling a stranger your struggles and deepest fears, hurts and pain. Then, you start to notice and experience how much better you feel. It takes courage to share our stories and things we might not have told anyone before. When someone listens without judgment, walks alongside you and gives helpful guidance and feedback, it feels like a sigh of relief. We may not feel so inadequate, different or not good enough. We realize we are not alone in our struggles.

Are you ready? Below are some steps to begin your journey.

1. Figure out your goal. What is your goal for going to therapy? What do you want to get out of it?

2. Research counselors in your area. Read about them, their practice and specializations. Do you like what they say on their website?

3. Make a list of questions. The first phone call to a therapist is your chance to see how you feel when you speak with them. Determine their fees, hours, specialties, availability and how they work with clients.

4. Call to see if there is a connection. See how you feel on the phone. Do you feel comfortable? Do you think this is someone that you can open up and share with?

5. Schedule the appointment and stick with it. It is completely normal to feel nervous for your first appointment. This is very common. Try to be open and share what is going on. Be yourself. Take a breath and leap. You are worth it!