His friends laughed at him when he said he felt the need to ‘talk to someone’. In fact John, his best friend, had laughed the hardest and told him, ”Since you have money to waste for talking with someone, why don’t you give me that money and talk with me instead. Am I not “someone” or “anyone” to you?”
Despite their jokes, Matt knew he needed therapy since his friends who were psychology students had highly recommended that he sees someone for his heart break. However, his friends’ approval was also important since he needed them to be his support system and not laugh at him. He needed someone who knew him to discuss what would be going on in therapy and to help him bear the consequences of his decision to share his problems with a stranger. He wished his friends would see his view point.
It is not uncommon to have the reaction of Matt’s friends. Therapy is sometimes looked down upon. Some people use the words “seeing ‘a shrink’” negatively. Other times, you may be stigmatized if others knew you were going for therapy.
I find that therapy is highly misunderstood. I have had clients ask me in the first session what they will be paying me for since despite being a doctor, I do not prescribe medicine or do blood tests. Talking of this (and on a light note) I was slightly amused, once, when a client reacted with shock and fear saying that they hate being injected or the sight of blood after I promised to administer a psychological test. They were not aware that psychological tests involve no such procedures. On a serious note, psychological tests may instil fear, but I digress. We shall talk about them in another post, please watch out for it.
Anyway, I once had a client who asked me this question about paying for talking and then he later answered himself: “Truly, all the people that I have talked to about my problem have given me advice that has not worked. I thought its time for a professional,” he said, with the air of one who had solved a long-standing puzzle.
His answer made sense to me since the root of the matter is the exercise of professionalism in helping a client. It is not merely giving the client face time, but really applying models of treatment that have been researched and found effective over time. These are scientific models and techniques that therapists go to school to learn, so they can treat clients. (These will be also discussed in future posts.) Knowing the content of these models as well as refining the skills to deliver them is what makes therapy. That is what distinguishes it from mere talk.
For Matt, going to see a therapist meant that he would receive professional help. That is what he needed, a professional perspective from a person who was unbiased. In his mind, he was certain, despite the ridicule from his friends, he know precisely why he should go for therapy.
To be continued…
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