I have previously written about why we don’t but could benefit from seeing a psychologist. So it’s time now to answer the all-important and opposite question – Is seeing a psychologist really worth my investment?
In other words, how likely am I to get tangible outcomes for the money and time I invest? Could I really be given strategies to assist me with feeling happier, calmer and more content?
These are challenging questions because no one can (or should) give you a guarantee of a ‘cure’ or ‘fix’. But that’s not to say that investing in psychological help isn’t worth it.
This blog is not a promise of what you will ‘get’ from seeing a psychologist but is primarily focused on how psychologists may assist you on your path.
First step: letting go of fear and breaking through the barriers
Every day I talk to clients about barriers to change. One of the metaphors they often use when feeling fearful or blocked is the metaphor of a brick wall as their immovable barrier.
Everyone has fears and worries. Everyone has anxiety about seeing a psychologist. Many people worry about feeling vulnerable and exposed. You are not alone but I believe that breaking through that wall and your own barriers towards change will be worth every cent with the right psychologist.
So as I answer this question about whether seeing a psychologist is worth your while, notice if those solid bricks that felt like they were there to protect you start to crumble one by one to reveal observable benefits. I hope that you will see that although those bricks may have made you feel safe and secure, they might have actually stopped you from living a richer and more meaningful life.
Give yourself permission to let those old objections go as they have past their use-by-date, opening up space for a different perspective and a renewed motivation for taking action.
So, if you are able to let go of those objections, what might you expect from therapy?
Is it really worth the investment?
Yes, therapy does take an investment of time and money (especially if you are working with a private practitioner). But there are a range of options that now make psychological services accessible to all whether it be in a government, university or school setting or private practice. And if you are open to the therapy, you are likely to find tangible benefits that are likely to be long lasting.
- Do you want a meaningful life?
- Do you want to manage your emotions better?
- Do you want look back over your life at 80 years of age and feel proud of the legacy you have left for your loved ones?
Yes? Then read on……
Evidence continues to mount that therapy truly does work and is often better than medication alone in the long term
We know from the anecdotal outcomes we see every day in our work, as well as an extensive body of scientific research over many years that psychological therapy works as well and often better than treatment with medication alone. Research has concluded that people have longer lasting gains and a significantly lower chance of a relapse than if just treated with medication across a range of issues such as anxiety and depression to eating disorders, sleep disorders and the management of chronic health conditions.
Anti-depressants may help you alleviate symptoms, reduce negative thoughts and the intensity of your feelings but therapy seeks to provide you with the tools to understand your issues and act on them using practical tools and strategies.
Therapy seeks to give you a great sense of empowerment. In my experience in a world where there is so much out of control, you need to feel that you have some influence. Sure, the cost of therapy may add up, but do we think twice about spending dollars on nice meals out, new clothes or other ‘treats’ to make us ‘feel better’? Ask yourself if you and your mental health is worth investing in for the long term.
Change really can happen
For you to make change happen, the most important thing is to find a psychologist who you are comfortable with and a service that enables you to access sessions at the frequency you need so that you can do your best to achieve the goals you desire over time.
Studies show that finding the right person and style of therapy is one of the critical ingredients for achieving positive outcomes from therapy.
The joys and reward of being a psychologist comes from seeing the transformation and the benefit of therapy last far beyond the therapy session. While every situation is different, I have seen many beautiful examples of real outcomes, for example:
- People moving from reporting high anxiety to stating how surprised they are at how relaxed and more active their lives have become having learned skills in responding to anxiety effectively.
- People broken by the sudden death of a partner who, with the help of a psychologist, gradually face rather than avoid their grief and adjust more successfully to a new life.
- Top performers crippled with performance anxiety who learn to face situations as a challenge rather than a threat, often leading to peak performance.
- Couples becoming able to open up about their needs in a relationship, improving communication, intimacy and trust.
- Families who are at the breaking point with their teenagers being able to find a way of returning to respectful communication, trust and closeness
- People who have felt like there is nothing to live for anymore finding a purpose to keep going and to start really living rather than just hanging on by a thread.
I see all sorts of changes occurring with clients every day, sometimes small, sometimes large. That is what drove me to become a psychologist … the opportunity to connect with people in a collaborative way that would provide a space and safe supportive relationship to facilitate meaningful change.
Every situation is unique, but there are common outcomes possible
Therapy with a psychologist has its place for all sorts of people. Some with more serious mental health concerns as listed above. But also for those who have specific day-to-day issues they want to discuss, relationships they want to improve or habits they want to break.
Working with a psychologist is not just a talk fest; it is a skillful process designed to facilitate changes in thoughts, feelings, behavior and relationships.
Your therapy will be determined by your needs, but if you commence therapy with a psychologist or other mental health professional, there are some common positive elements you are likely to find:
A space to help explore a range of feelings and learn how to respond effectively.
A place to explore letting go of unhelpful thoughts that keep you stuck and explore how to be present through mindfulness
- We may work with you in exploring how to face fears rather than avoiding them
- We may allow you the opportunity to explore your identity and act on your values for a better life
- We may explore how to be more accepting of discomfort while also knowing how not to create more of it than you need
- We may work with you in breaking habitual patterns of behavior that may be outside of your awareness and address any barriers that get in the way
- We may observe patterns of communication and behaviour in relationships that need breaking and help interrupt those patterns, building skills for better communication, assertiveness, trust and intimacy
- We may work with you in the process of you performing to your potential, as you explore skills to enhance performance and be present in the moment
- We may work with you in building confidence, assertiveness and letting go of self-doubt and self-criticism to shape a stronger belief in yourself
- We may explore issues in achieving a better work/life balance, manage stress more effectively and setting healthy boundaries
- We may work collaboratively with you to help achieve a sense of contentment, knowing how to appreciate when you are happy but also knowing how to roll with the punches and deal with challenges, bouncing back quickly.
Most importantly, we will explore with you your unique request and aim to assist you with achieving a richer and more meaningful life.
So, how does that all sound? Do any of these potential paths change your mind about the tangible benefits of therapy?
Ask yourself, is it time to break down that wall and move beyond the barriers to achieving change? A psychologist is able to work collaboratively with you in your journey to achieve what you desire for your life. What does a Psychologist do anyway? Seeking out a psychologist could be the best decision you ever make for your future.
Stay tuned for my final blog in this series which will explore the process of therapy, the power of the therapeutic relationship and what we know supports the change process.
Please note: Attuned Psychology is a practice of psychologists and other therapists. This article is primarily focused on how psychologists may assist you.
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