By: Suzanne Maiden, M.A., LPC
Only the bravest of the brave go to and stay in therapy – the psychological kind. THERAPY IS HARD WORK for the patient. Therapy (you know, the counseling kind), requires an enormous emotional and financial commitment. Then there is that pesky time factor, ideally, the patient should attend 1 session per week – more if they’re in crisis. Who willingly adds three extra hours of work to their week? How is it three hours? Well, on average, the commute alone is about a two hour roundtrip, add in the therapeutic hour – which is actually 50 minutes – and 3 hours are gone! Therapy is expensive. Many providers are moving towards private pay because dealing with insurance companies is ridiculously time consuming and not cost-effective for the therapist. Depending on where you live and the providers credentials, therapy rates may vary from $75.00 – $350.00/hour. Ouch!
The emotional expense for the patient is initially pricey. At first, therapy may seem like a high-cost-low-yield investment. One of the biggest surprises for the client – therapy doesn’t always feel good right away. Immediate relief is no guarantee. Why then, would anyone in their right mind engage in this? Yes, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Well it they were in their right mind, they wouldn’t need therapy…’ Not so. I’ve NEVER, never ever, met anyone who could not benefit from some therapy. I stay in therapy. We all need a good therapist. Why? Because we are all wounded. Life is hard. We all have an innate need to be deeply understood. We all have an innate need to be heard and witnessed and loved.
After several multiple sessions, and depending on their level of functioning, the patient begins to heal. How? Because a competent therapist helps the patient identify wounds and traumatic events which contribute towards current dysfunctional behaviors. This is a process. It cannot be rushed. Patients often ask: “I’ve been coming here for 6 weeks? How come I don’t feel any better? I actually feel worse!” Why? Because it takes years for our psyche to create and maintain defense mechanisms – the emotional blocks we create to avoid feeling pain. Therapy is like a gentle exfoliation of ‘dead’ or necrotic emotional tissue. It is hard for the patient to let go of the very structures that have been their emotional glue. It hurts. Therefore, the therapist’s role is to facilitate a balance between challenging the patient vs. allowing them freedom to go at their own pace. A good therapist is constantly negotiating this holding the tensions-of-the-opposites. Therapy is more like a marathon vs. a sprint.
Therapy is hard work for the patient – but it is the best investment anyone can make in themselves. The final dividends are richly fulfilling and yield increased emotional well-being.