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8 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask a Therapist

With Massiel Bradberry, LPC

Everyone can benefit from therapy in some way, but taking the first steps can feel intimidating! For those who aren’t quite ready to make the leap into therapy, here are 8 questions you’ve always wanted to ask a therapist, answered by our own, Massiel Bradberry, LPC.

1. How do I know if I need to go to therapy?

There are many answers to this question. The reasons that people seek counseling for are different for everyone, and they are all equally valid. Reasons to go to counseling may look like:

• “It is hard to function and manage my day to day life”

• “I don’t feel like myself lately, I don’t know what’s wrong”

• “I moved to a new place and I’m having a hard time adjusting”

• “I need to set better boundaries with my parents/friends/in-laws/ co-workers”

• “I am having a hard time dating. I don’t want to settle, but I also don’t want to be alone”

• “I am going through a break up and I am not sure how to cope”

• “I want to figure out what I want to do with my life. I am not where I should be”

• “I had a new baby and want to navigate the world of parenting”

• “I feel Like a fraud although I know I’m not. I want to feel better”

• “I can’t sleep, concentrate at work or find anything that brings me joy”

• “I just want to talk to someone that’s not my mom/best friend/ boyfriend”

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist and ask for a consultation call. This is a great opportunity to get some of your questions answered. To address this you may say something like, “I have been thinking about therapy for a while, but I am not sure I need it. How do I know this will be beneficial to me?”

2. Do therapists go to therapy?

Yes, therapists are humans first and none of us are inmune to life issues. Just like anyone else, mental health professionals also benefit from therapy. In fact, for many of us it may be an ongoing thing in order to provide the best care for our clients. Because of the nature of our profession it is encouraged that therapists do therapy to work on themselves and their emotional care. Furthermore, being a client themselves allows therapists to see things from a different perspective and experience first hand what it is like to be on the other side of the couch.

3. How do I tell my family I want to go to therapy without alarming them?

It is natural for you family to worry and care about you. After all, counseling continues to be seen by many as something that people only seek when deeply troubled or in times of crises and emergencies. If that’s the case I would suggest you gently educate your family and help them understand that there are many reasons to see a therapists. That being said, it is also important for you to keep your boundaries. You do not own your family an explanation about the reasons you may need counseling. Your family does not need to know all the details, something as simple as: “I want to work on myself”, “I want to talk to someone that’s not a relative or friend”, “I need to work through some things”, or “I’m just going in for an emotional check up” will do. You can always reassure your family that you’re safe and that you will reach out and ask for help if that ever changes.

4. Is it okay to tell my employer that I am struggling with depression? How do I let them know?

Yes, mental health is not something we need to feel ashamed about. A few things to consider:

1) what is the goal with sharing this detail of your life with your employee?

2) what are you hoping to achieve?

3) what are your expectations?

4) what are your rights?

Equally important is to address your employee’s expectations of you, this will ultimately help you and guide your time at work. Make sure to allow space for that type of open and vulnerable discussion.

5. How do I convince someone I’m worried about to go to therapy?

It is so hard to see someone you care about struggling and refusing help. It is important you take care of yourself by understanding that it is NOT your job to convince someone to go to therapy or get help. Instead, recognize the things within your power/control: reach out, check in regularly, offer to listen, express your concerns and provide resources, offer your presence and time. If you are concerned for someone’s safety feel free to call your local police station for a wellness check. Check our resource page for a list of resources.

6. What is the best way to break up with a therapist?

I encourage open and honest communication in any therapy relationship. It is important that you discuss with your current therapist what’s working and what’s not. If you have decided you are not a good fit, your therapist should be able to provide a list of referrals or resources for you. Remember, the focus of therapy is always the client. You should not worry about hurting you therapist’s feelings if things are not working out. Plus, having awkward conversations like these in your therapy room gives you an opportunity to practice assertiveness and other communicating skills. Like I always say, therapy is about you and it should be worth your time, money, energy, and effort. Don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the one that’s absolutely right for you!

7. What is one of the hardest truths that people often avoid accepting?

This is a tough one, since everyone is so different. I think people sometimes struggle to accept both, 1) that we have tremendous power and control over ourselves (more than at times we want to admit) and, 2) that we are not in control of everything (we can’t control life events and we cannot control those around us) *

8. Is there anyone you can’t help? Why not?

Yes, of course. However, this is not because there are people who are “lost causes” or are too broken and just can’t be helped or “fixed”. There are individuals I’m confident I can’t helped because I am simply not the right therapist for them. I think a HUGE component of therapy is the relationship that you have with your therapist. If we are not a good fit, most likely therapy won’t be effective. There are cases that I won’t be able to help too because they are outside of my competency or scope of practice. I do not work with certain mental health disorders because I am not equipped with the particular skill set needed for their treatment. Ultimately, therapy will always be more effective for people that want to be helped and are “ready” (note that this means something different for everyone). When people are forced to get helped and are in therapy to please someone else, more often than not therapy is not effective or beneficial. In fact, these people are often left with a negative view or impression about therapy.

Do you have any questions for a therapist that we didn’t cover? Let us know!

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