Do I need therapy?

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Many people ask me some version of the question: “Do I need therapy?” “Needing” therapy depends on your definition of the word. If you are suicidal, then you may need therapy in order to survive. Most people just “need” therapy, not to survive, but in order to be happy. In other words, they would survive without it, but they could be happier with it. Since therapy does not usually mean the difference between life and death, many people therefore see therapy as a luxury. This sentiment has complex roots in how we view our emotions in general, both personally and as a society.

We have a notion as a culture that if something is just “in our head” we should be able to change it right away. Even more relevant is that many people were taught growing up, either explicitly or implicitly, that their feelings are unimportant. This leads them to feel that paying attention to them and getting help for them is overly indulgent, because they aren’t important anyway. I might counter: What is the point of life if we don’t feel some sense of happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, or meaning? If feelings are kind of the point, then how can they be a luxury? Many people are willing to buy themselves a nice new car, but unwilling to spend money on therapy, since they consider that to be a “luxury”.

I will have to leave this rich topic here for the moment, but will wrap it up by suggesting that with good therapy, one often begins to appreciate the things in life that are free and abundant (our relationships, the beauty around us) as much or more than anything we can buy with money. I will be discussing in future blog posts other reasons that people who could be helped by therapy may not seek it.


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About Dr. John Lundin

Dr. Lundin is a licensed clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area, with offices in San Francisco and Oakland California, specializing in relationship therapy for adults and depression therapy for adults, teens, and children. He is an instructor, supervisor and author of numerous publications on trauma therapy, psychotherapy for depression & anxiety and what makes psychotherapy effective.

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