Why Do Therapy?
There are many reasons why people decide to start therapy. Some know exactly how they feel and what they want to work on. For others it is less clear, because they feel confused and overwhelmed. Sometimes, as people learn more about themselves, they realize that things are more complex than they imagined. In all cases, people feel that they are not living the life they could or want to live.
What about you?
Perhaps you feel trapped, broken, hopeless, afraid, or insecure about your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships. Maybe you are tired of feeling sad, alone, ashamed, unsafe, afraid, or doubtful. Or you might be feeling anxious and panicky, losing your temper more often than usual.
Maybe things happened in the past that still impact your life today. Maybe you felt unheard, unseen, rejected, or abandoned by people you loved, and you are afraid that it might happen again. When we are so used to paying attention to others, it becomes difficult to know what we really want, what we need, and who we really are. It might be hard to find your own voice, understand what is going on with you, and let go of secrets, shame, and other feelings that are overwhelming, heavy, or draining.
Or perhaps for a long time you’ve played roles in your relationships that you don’t want to play anymore. You’ve had to pretend that you are someone you are not, that things are fine, while being worried about what could happen if people really knew you deep inside. Maybe there are parts of yourself that you don't understand, can't seem to accept, or even hate.
Doing therapy does not mean that there is something wrong with you. It means that you recognize that you could use some help, and that takes courage. The reasons why you might be seeking therapy are part of the experiences that define our humanity, not conditions to pathologize or label with superficial diagnosis. Therapy is a unique place where you can understand, make sense, heal, repair, and grow. Understanding and accepting where we are and where we come from is essential to expand our future. We cannot change the past, but we can change our relationship with it.
What does art have to do with it?
Throughout history, art has captured many of these feelings and experiences, in ways that words cannot describe. Scroll down to explore some of the things people feel when they decide to seek help. Perhaps you are also feeling this way?
(Click on any image for a larger view)
You feel like you are going through life without a sense of direction, as if you were moving by inertia. Or maybe someone or something that was part of your life for a long time is gone, leaving you confused and uncertain about what to do next. In either case, therapy can help you explore and understand the longing for direction, and develop a renewed sense of purpose.
You feel without energy or motivation to start anything. Whatever used to interest you doesn't seem appealing anymore. It might be hard to even get out of bed. Depression is like a fever, in that it is a signal that there is something else going on. In therapy we will start to compassionately untangle the reasons why you feel without energy, and find new outlooks on life.
Sometimes we go through life unable to feel joy, passion, anger, sadness, pain, or anything else. It is as if our emotions have been turned off. We don't feel calm, but empty; not peaceful, but shut down. We may have learned that feeling and expressing emotions is unacceptable or dangerous. Therapy creates the space to understand what is getting in the way and reconnect with what you feel inside.
You are feeling more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient with others or with yourself. Maybe you feel the anger growing inside of you and you are afraid you will explode. Perhaps you learned that anger is not acceptable, and the more you try to suppress it, the more intense it gets. Therapy is a place where we can understand what it is trying to tell you. Your anger is welcome here.
Whether it is in your relationships, your career, or in life in general, you may feel like it's too difficult to take any step forward. Or you may not even know what "forward" means. Maybe you tell yourself that you should have figured things out already. In therapy we will work to become aware of what is really getting in the way, and find ways to break the cycle.
You feel that some people in your life are unfair, neglectful, or abusive. Perhaps it seems like others are trying to take advantage or steamroll you. And even though it feels this way, it is hard to set boundaries and say "enough!" In therapy we can talk about your experience, the feelings it triggers, the role you might be playing, and how to move through this situation.
There are so many things pulling you in different directions: conflicting voices telling you what to do, feelings you don't understand, or people and things in your world that you don't recognize anymore. It is really hard to know what is best for you and how to make sense of it all. In therapy we will be able to untangle the confusion and find ways to make it less overwhelming.
Whether you are alone or with others, you just can't feel at ease. You might be worried that something terrible will happen, that others will judge you, that you won't say or do the right thing. Perhaps sometimes you feel panic creeping in, making your chest tight and your heart race. Let's find ways to understand and manage your anxiety so that you can be your true self.
You have wanted things to be different for a long time, tried everything you could to change yourself or others, but nothing worked. Or you are so overwhelmed by what life has thrown at you, that you feel paralyzed and it is almost impossible to see a way out. Therapy is a place where, in time, you will be able to find the understanding and peace you need to recover hope.
Your world seems to be falling apart and you don't know how to make sense of it, who to ask for help, or what to do. Maybe it was triggered by news you didn't expect, by your own behaviors, by a profound injury, or by the loss of a loved one. Therapy offers the opportunity of a calm and safe space where you can find ways to deal with your internal upheaval.
You have a clear feeling that there is something wrong with you, some fatal flaw that keeps you from functioning like a "normal" person. Other people can cope with life, handle situations, be happy in their relationships, but those things feel foreign to you. In therapy we can understand where those feelings are coming from and start putting the pieces together.
Guilt is feeling bad about what you do, shame is feeling bad about who you are. No matter what, it seems like you will never feel good enough: not smart enough, not attractive enough, not assertive enough, not social enough, and the list goes on. Shame is insidious, and makes us feel unworthy and undeserving. In therapy we will find new ways to see yourself, with compassion and love.
Like A Fraud
Others see you as a good person, a good friend, a good employee. But you feel that if they really knew you, they would be disappointed, angry, or hurt. You fear you could lose them or they might let you go. Feeling like this makes it hard to accept ourselves fully. Therapy offers an opportunity to understand and challenge those beliefs, and feel comfortable being yourself.
Sometimes it feels as if life has thrown at you more than you can handle: big changes, unexpected losses, or difficult news. Sometimes we are filled up from within with hurtful feelings or scary thoughts. Either way, it feels like too much and we can't see how we will get past it. Let's talk about what is making life so overwhelming and find the strength you need to go through it.
Things are not the way they used to be in your relationship. Somehow you drifted apart and now you feel disconnected from your partner. Even if there are no fights, it is hard to share your feelings, to find things in common, to laugh and have fun, to dream together. Individually or as a couple, therapy can help you process these feelings and find new ways to relate to each other.
You've had enough. Perhaps something overwhelming shook your world, or maybe you have been giving and giving your entire life. Now you feel drained and depleted. You feel like you have nothing left inside, and you just can't take it anymore. We can create a space where you can process the experiences that led you to this point and find strength within you.
Days go by and you feel alone, even in the company of other people. Perhaps you feel you have nobody who cares. Or maybe, even if you know that people care, you feel they don't really understand what it is like to be you. Therapy is a space where you will be joined with empathy and curiosity, to gain understanding on what is getting in the way to connect.
Whether you know the reason or you can't understand why, you feel constantly unsafe in your head and in your body. Maybe you are frequently on edge, worried about what others will do or think. It becomes hard to be calm and in peace, to just be yourself. Therapy is a safe space to explore, at a pace that feels comfortable for you, what is behind these feelings.
You feel unseen and unheard by others, including people who have known you for many years. It is as if nobody really sees you for who you are, as if your needs don't matter, as if you don't have a voice, as if nobody understands you. Therapy may be one of the first places where you will be seen and accepted, without judgement but with curiosity and compassion.
Sometimes we are scared that others may harm us or ignore us. Sometimes we are afraid that life might become unmanageable. Sometimes we are scared of ourselves, of the things we carry inside and sometimes feel capable of doing. Let's talk about where those fears really come from, find ways to accept them, and learn what they are trying to communicate.