DO YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP?
Since you are competent enough to read and understand this,
the question isn’t whether you need therapy
but whether you want it.
And whether you want it enough.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I WANT THERAPY ENOUGH?
You can decide if you want therapy enough
by weighing the expected costs against the expected rewards.
THE COSTS OF THERAPY
You can evaluate the costs by thinking about money, time, and energy.
Your out of pocket costs can range from nothing (for those with great insurance)
to more than $200 per hour (for those who need a psychiatrist and must pay on their own).
You need a psychiatrist if you have medical complications related to therapy.
Most therapists are “clinical social workers” and some are “clinical psychologists.”
If you need medication you might
see a psychiatrist just once or occasionally, often for less than an hour.
But you’d see a social worker or psychologist for your regular meetings.
Fees vary greatly.
On average (in Milwaukee in 2003), psychologists charged about $130 per hour.
Social workers were likely to charge in the $115 range.
[I charge either $105 per appointment or $300 per month for 4 or 5 weekly meetings.]
Competence is not directly related to fees!
Fees are mostly related to the therapist’s circumstances:
overhead, agency policies, lifestyle, etc.
[My monthly rate is low because of low expenses.
Ask for info if you want telephone counseling or if you can see me in person in Milwaukee.]
Finances should not keep you out of therapy.
If you can’t afford the fees and have no insurance,
call a Family Service agency
or call the local Mental Health Association.
They charge based on your ability to pay.
(If you have enough income but prefer to spend it on other things,
you don’t want therapy enough…)
TIME AND ENERGY
One of the best ways to evaluate whether you want therapy enough is simply to ask yourself:
“Would it be worth an hour of my time and energy each week
to talk to a therapist about the things I want to improve about my life?”
If the answer to this question is “Yes,” then you want therapy enough.
If the answer is “No,” you probably don’t want it enough.
(Unless deciding to value yourself is one of the problems you should work on.)
THE EXPECTED REWARDS
It is reasonable to assume that you will at least learn
to understand yourself and your situation
very well through therapy.
Since nothing is perfect,
it is not reasonable to assume
that you will solve all of the problems in your life.
When I end therapy with someone,
I ask them to rate everything they wanted to change since therapy began.
Then I ask them put a percentage on each item to indicate
the degree to which we were successful or unsuccessful.
Most people report improvement in all areas,
and enough improvement to be quite happy about it
on 90% of the things they wanted to change.
FINDING A GOOD THERAPIST
The Best Ways To Find A Good Therapist:
Go back to any therapist you had in the past if you were happy with their work.
Ask your friends what they like about their therapists, and notice if these same factors are important to you.
Don’t rely on your insurance company. Their primary interest is in keeping costs down. They usually refer to therapists who agree to follow the insurance company’s very restrictive guidelines for short-term therapy.
Remember: You are hiring the therapist. You are the boss. You decide if they are right for you, and you have every right to shop around if you want. A therapist should feel like a good match for you, regardless of their credentials.
One of the most important factors in finding a good therapist is whether the therapist truly believes he or she can help you. Notice their level of personal confidence.
Something is very wrong if your therapist believes they know you better than you know yourself or if the therapist acts “superior” in any way.
Therapists are the experts on the therapy process.
You are the expert on yourself!