Therapy — Investing in You

Talk therapy can be life-changing. Talking to a therapist provides a safe place to work through issues that are bothering you without being judged or criticized for your feelings. If you’ve never been to therapy, your idea of what it is may be based on what you’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Therapy is much more than how it is portrayed on TV. First of all, it can easily involve a lot of the “ugly” crying.

My therapy experience

I have popped into and out of therapy throughout my adult life. Most recently, I sought out someone to talk to while I was dealing with issues that surfaced after my spouse died, And, true story, I Googled “best therapist in Sonoma County.” That is how I found my therapist, whom I have now been going to for almost four years. At the end of three months, I was ready to pop back out after having developed enough coping tools to get me through the death trauma. Then the wildfires came and, boy, was I glad to have help navigating that excruciatingly stressful time.

Since then, I made the decision to remain in therapy long-term. I looked at my fixed-income finances and decided, at this point in my life, I’m committed to foregoing vacations, fancy cars, expensive habits, or huge donations in order to maintain something in my life that helps me grow and learn about myself, improving life overall, and, specifically, learning to cope with the way my world has changed in the last couple of years. Barring the unforeseen, I hope to be able to afford this service that enhances my life for years to come.

This past year we weren’t sure if therapy would be possible during the lockdown that prevented in-person visits. Thank goodness my therapist and I tried our conversations using FaceTime on our phones. There turned out to be no difference in the quality of what I get out of these sessions using this technology. It’s worked so well that, when my therapist told me he was moving back East, we both agreed to continue with FaceTime. Also, when I had surgery in 2017 and wasn’t able to leave my home for three months, for a slightly increased fee, he came to my house and we continued the work there. I’ve been fortunate.

A new issue that I’ve been talking to my therapist about is my reticence in entertaining my friends who, like me, are fully vaccinated. I have the desire to see and be with them, but I feel a hesitancy that has blocked me from doing so. I’m okay going to the store or to appointments and even going out to dinner with Rod. Every time I think about inviting a friend over for lunch or coffee, however, I don’t feel ready. I’m happy I’ll be able to break down my feelings in therapy in order to move beyond any discomfort I’m experiencing.

Therapy has been a major benefit during trying times. 

Therapy during the pandemic has come out of the closet. Many who wouldn’t admit to participating in therapeutic talk sessions are speaking out loudly now about how helpful talking to a professional can be. It proved the most constructive help for me during the stressful political, social, and pandemic upheavals this past year. Plus, the repercussions of COVID around the world aren’t going to vanish overnight with everything being hunky dory again. Therapy will help me going forward, I’m sure.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer but the forecast looks bleak for political, civic, and economic recovery. For us senior citizens there isn’t enough time to have things return to a much less stressed-out world. For that reason, I advocate investigating in some form of therapy to help cope with politicians who only care about themselves, climate change that has created ongoing threats of wildfires, flooding, super storms, etc., and the social, economic, and social problems related to those big issues. It’s too much!

Locating Therapy Support

While you can do what I did and Google a therapist that might work for you, I wouldn’t recommend it. Get a recommendation from your doctor or a friend who has therapy experience. Therapy can be costly, with services ranging from $75 to over $300 for a 50-minute session.

If you feel the desire to investigate this way to cope and thrive in today’s new world, here are some suggestions for finding talk therapy help in a price range that works for you:

~Many therapists will work on a sliding scale where their fee is dependent on your income or the available resources you have for therapy.

~If you live near an institution of higher learning, sometimes their psychology department has an outpatient program with services at a reduced cost.

~Online options also abound, which help if you feel uncomfortable leaving your home. Talkspace and BetterHelp are two online services that can help.

~Group therapy is a great way to receive help with mental health issues, including isolation, in a setting with others. The fees for groups are substantially less than one-on-one talk therapy. Sometimes there is no cost if a group focuses on a specific issue like grief counseling. Many churches, synagogs, and community-based organizations have little or no-cost support groups. A friend of mine whose father and brother both passed during the holidays has found great solace in the support he has received from a group affiliated with his church.

Remember, if you learn of a therapist you might feel comfortable with, ask if s/he offers group sessions.

Finally …

I feel blessed to have found my therapist, someone I trust and someone who gives me honest feedback. The support I’ve received over the years I couldn’t have received from a friend or a family member. I wholeheartedly recommend you look into talk therapy if you feel even the slightest need. Low-cost options are available thus making this valuable tool more affordable. There’s a lot going on both out there and probably within each of us as well. The right person will be able to help you plunge back into life the way that’ll make you feel most comfortable.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ~Maya Angelou