Steven J. Hanley Ph.D.

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There are many reasons why someone might go to psychotherapy or counseling. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common issues I see in my practice. Others include: relationship difficulties, divorce, alcohol or drug issues, personality disorders, general life stressors, and more.

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There are also many reasons people give for NOT going to psychotherapy or counseling, despite having difficulties that might be helped by doing so.

I would like to address some of the more common reasons here.

“Psychotherapy is too expensive”

With changes in mental health laws and the insurance industry in the last several years I have found that many people are surprised by how affordable psychotherapy or counseling can be.

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Most (though not all) insurance policies are required to cover mental health treatment at a similar level that they cover other medical issues. Though copayments and deductibles can vary greatly depending on your policy, most of the people I have seen in my practice find the costs reasonable.

Don’t have insurance? There are quality low cost options that are based on your ability to pay. For example, in the Detroit metropolitan area where I practice there are several psychology graduate school programs that have treatment clinics that train new psychotherapists and counselors. Here are a few:

Also, many colleges have student counseling services that offers mental health treatment that is included in the tuition that you have already paid.

You may have apprehensions about seeing a “trainee.” You should know, however, that these clinicians, though early in their careers, are closely supervised by fully licensed professional like myself. They are usually very committed and eager to help.

Finally, you should consider the financial cost of NOT going to psychotherapy or counseling (e.g., missed work, lost job, divorce, etc.). Addressing issues sooner rather than later often saves money by avoiding costlier treatments down the road. Would you rather spend to get a small cavity in your tooth filled today or wait years when you need a full set of teeth replaced?

“I don’t have enough time for counseling or psychotherapy”

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The time challenges of modern society are real. Let’s face it, you have a lot to do! Between working, raising a family, keeping your home clean, taking care of elderly parents, etc. you probably don’t have a lot of spare time.

So, the time issue becomes more an issue of priority. Most things in life that are worth doing are worth making some time for. The reality is that might mean sacrificing something else. Using your lunch hour, for example, to see a therapist rather than spending it with colleagues at a restaurant. Getting up an hour earlier to have a morning appointment before work might be an option as well.

I am not suggesting a “get to therapy at all costs” approach. I am just suggesting that with a little creativity and planning it usually can be done.

Finally, some psychotherapists (myself included) offer online video psychotherapy sessions that can save you a trip to the office. Check out this previous blog post for details.

“I can’t find the right psychotherapist or counselor”

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Finding the right therapist is probably the most important factor in the success of treatment. You may have had a bad experience (unfortunately) with a therapist in the past. Understandably, that might make you hesitant to try it again.

For some tips on finding a psychotherapist who is a good fit check out this previous blog post.

“Only ‘crazy’ people go to therapy.”

“Crazy” is an emotional label, not a scientific one. I get why people use it, but it is not a helpful descriptor. People with all levels of difficulties go to psychotherapy.

Though there continues to be a social stigma against those who seek help for emotional difficulties, I find that this is lessening over time. You may come from a particular cultural background where these stigmas or prejudices are stronger. It might take some educating of those close to you about the process and why you are seeking help.

Here are some suggestions. Talk to someone who has had a positive experience in therapy. Find a support group where you can hear experiences that others have had that match your own. It can be quite a relief to know that you aren’t the only one.

Most of my professional colleagues in the mental health field have been in their own psychotherapy or counseling at some point in their lives. Because it is so common and accepted in my circle, I sometimes lose sight of how difficult taking that first step can be. It really is a courageous first step. A compassionate professional can help smooth that transition for you. Psychotherapy can be a wonderful way to learn about yourself and improve your life.

“I can do it on my own.”

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I wouldn’t recommend it! Sure, there are things you can do to help yourself through difficult emotional times, but there is no substitute for having a trained professional guide you through the process.

The internet can be a wonderful thing and there is a lot of information you can find there about mental health issues. Some of it is great, most of it is decent, but some of it is simply ill-informed and dangerous. It’s not always easy to tell the good from the bad, so be careful.

Unfortunately, many of us might rely on old, unhealthy ways of coping. Drug and alcohol abuse is a common form of “self-medicating” against emotional difficulties. Obviously this can lead to greater problems down the road.

We also tend to use coping mechanisms that, though they worked in childhood (because that is all we had) they are much less efficient when used in adulthood.

For a wonderful memoir about one man’s ill-advised attempts to treat his Major Depressive Disorder without professional help check out Van Gogh in Peppers.

If you or someone you love is looking for a psychotherapist or counseling please feel free to contact me. If I can’t help you I will put you in touch with someone who can. My office is located in Southfield, MI with convenient access to the surrounding cities of: Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, West Bloomfield, Birmingham, Novi, and more!

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Contact: 248-327-7563

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