As our world sits in this weird holding pattern, it is extremely understandable for you to be feeling lethargic, unmotivated, under-stimulated, isolated, down, tired, and out of sorts, even if you aren’t typically prone to depressive states.
In my previous blog, I named the very real implications coronavirus appears to be having on the mental, emotional, and relational well-being of so many, and began outlining evidence-based practices for productively coping with these changes. In this second part, I am skipping straight to the meat and potatoes to share my #1 recommendation for getting through this difficult time.
Yep, this blog is about to be one giant, shameless plug for therapy.
Now, this is the part where I invite you to allow all the reasons you tell yourself not to go to therapy come to mind: cost, skepticism, a past experience that left a poor taste in your mouth, fear, or simply thinking you don’t need it. Allow me to share some feedback that may just change your mind.
Therapy can be expensive, there is no denying that. For those whose concern is primarily financial, I want to encourage you with a few things:
It is possible to find providers and community-based health resources with sliding scale and/or low fee services.
Reach out to your insurance company. If mental health is a covered service, they should be able to supply you a list of covered providers (therapists in your network).
Some out-of-network clinicians allot a certain number of spaces in their caseload to meet with low-fee clients.
CPCC provides financial aid to eligible clients through the CPC Deacon Fund to help cover the cost of therapy. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of coronavirus, for example, you may be eligible for this support.
Psychology Today (website) is an excellent resource to find therapists that meet your unique needs and preferences.
What about risk of exposure to coronavirus?
I acknowledge with everything going on associated with Covid-19, you may have concerns about the practical safety of seeking out therapy. The good news is many clinicians are offering tele-health, allowing clients to meet virtually with therapists from the comfort and safety of their homes or other confidential locations. I encourage you to speak with a potential therapist about whether this might be right for you.
Also, many counseling practices (CPCC included) are going out of their way to incorporate policies and procedures to protect the well-fare of clients who do choose to seek out in-person services. Do not be afraid to ask what precautions a therapist and/or center is taking to address these concerns.
You may question if therapy will work for you or have apprehension about what it might be like.
This is totally normal! Let us call it what it is; therapy is such a weird thing! I remember going into my first experience, telling myself: “You mean I’m supposed to go sit in a room for an hour with someone I don’t know and tell them a bunch of deep, intimate things about myself that not even some of my closest friends know? Whaaaa?”
To you I say: give it a shot. At worst, you lose an hour of your day and decide it is not for you. At best, you experience a level of growth, healing, peace, and freedom you hoped was possible.
you experience a level of growth, healing, peace, and freedom you hoped was possible
Poor past experience(s) of therapy:
I have certainly met people who have been here. Maybe mom and dad forced you to see a therapist as a teenager when every bone in your body was against it. Maybe you felt no connection with the therapist you did try. Maybe you experienced a rupture in your relationship with your past therapist that left you reeling.
First, I am so sorry that happened to you. That is totally rough. Whether you chalk it up to poor circumstances, not finding a good fit, or a therapist’s poor handling of a situation (yikes, guilty of that one), here’s my one piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to “therapist shop” a bit. Think of it like finding the right hairdresser- you want to find someone you trust, gets what you are going for, and jives with your general style.
The single-most significant indicator of therapeutic efficacy (aka that therapy will work) is the therapeutic relationship. That means for therapy to be effective, it is important for you to find a therapist who you trust, and who helps you feel safe.
Not Thinking You Need It/Fear of What It Will Bring Up:
I put these two seemingly unrelated reasons for avoiding therapy in the same category because often they go hand-in hand.
Allow me to explain. Sometimes (not always) minimizing the potential usefulness of therapy is an unconscious way we try to avoid the difficult things we may have to face by going. Same can be said for those who argue going to therapy is a sign of weakness.
If you genuinely believe you do not need it, I argue you do not have anything to lose. If you are apprehensive about what it will bring up for you, I want you to hear that is completely normal, and rather insightful to acknowledge. I encourage you to communicate this with your therapist so you can navigate it together; they are prepared for this.
I would like to wrap this up with some pithy, grabbing conclusion, but I will leave you simply with this:
If you have been waiting for a sign to let you know it is your time to start therapy…here it is.
Christian Makenna Clements is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #111159.