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Why Therapy Isn't Just 'Paying Someone to Listen'

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“Why should I pay someone to listen to me talk?”

“I don’t need to pay someone to pretend to care about me.”

“I don’t want to talk to a stranger about such personal stuff.”

These are things that I once said and thought. I was hesitant to start therapy because I felt like I had no reason to trust they could help me with just words. Therapy isn’t tangible and for me, it was a hard concept to understand. There were no daily workouts or books to read; it didn’t involve taking prescribed doses (at least not for me) and I couldn’t track my improvement on a chart. There were good days and there were bad days. I couldn’t understand that I was still “putting in the work” even when it felt like I was doing little more than talking about my feelings.

I think this is a common misconception for a lot of people. And I think part of the work is finding the right therapist for you. After finding someone you can trust, the real work begins.

Therapy isn’t “paying someone to listen to you rant” or “listening to a stranger give you advice.”

It’s opening up about your struggles, about your issues, about anything you need help with. It’s learning how to cope with panic attacks and depressive episodes; it’s learning to manage eating disorders and to manage chronic pain.

For me, therapy was finally getting a real, proper diagnosis so that I could get on the right treatment path. Therapy is learning the right tools to deal with issues as they arise. Therapy is learning to be gentle with yourself.

Therapy is being brave enough to ask for help so that you know you’re not alone, so that you know you can get through it. Therapy is putting in the work to build yourself up, getting strong and growing into the person you want to be.

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Getty image via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: January 10, 2018
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