The Top 3 Truths about counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, and coaching in Wake Forest, NC
Oh, how I love the truths. I grew up speaking my mind and sometimes getting in trouble for being too direct with my words. My mom used to say that I have “nothing between my tongue and my brain”, referring to a much needed filter:) Oops, sorry mom, I don’t have that one. And I could care less, to be honest. Still don’t.
One of my best friends from graduate school once said to me: “You know, Irina, there are things that Americans can only think about and will never say out loud, but you are so different because you can say what all of us can only think.” Awwww, okay:) I don’t exactly remember whether I took it as a compliment or a complain at the time, but I am sure my unfiltered style had made her and probably others uncomfortable during at least several occasions. One of such occasions involved our wedding officient during my own wedding ceremony. Let me give you a little bit of background first so that you can follow me.
We got married in Northern Virginia in the beginning of June and it was a beautiful clear sky sunny day. Which also meant it was a very hot day, making us sweat excessively during our 45-minute ceremony. I know, I couldn’t believe it either when our officiant was going on and on and on about poetic love using Shakespearean language that made little sense to me as an non native English speaker for freaking 45 min! Anyway, at some point during the ceremony the officiant looked at me and went “Wow, we have a perfect bride… she is crying, everyone”, handing me the tissues that she must have prepared well in advance for my expected tears. “I am not crying, I am just sweating”-I responded honestly, making her look slightly puzzled and disappointed for a second before returning to her sophisticated poems. I love re-watching this moment on the wedding video!
Anyway, truths are awesome and a lot of my clients often comment on the fact that they find my “unfiltered” approach helpful because I say things “as they are without sugar coding” anything. So, I wanted to write this honest blog post about the most common truths I hear from clients and friends related to therapy. If you or someone you know is in therapy, or you are thinking about going to counseling or psychotherapy, I hope you find this information helpful. As a licensed relationship therapist based in a tiny, but beautiful Wake Forest, North Carolina, located just a few miles north from Raleigh and a few miles East from Durham, I am passionate about helping people to thrive in relationships. And when your relationships are connected, meaningful, and fulfilling, your physical and mental health symptoms, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or simply feeling “not enough” naturally improve. So, let’s dig in.
Truth # 1: Therapy is expensive
I am not going to lie and tell you that therapy is cheap, or you can use your insurance, or you can find a counselor who offers a sliding scale. Why not? Well, for starters, because I know that insurance companies suck! They micromanage therapists and dictate how to treat clients, so that they provide the least amount of sessions just enough to put a band-aid on the issue (as opposed to providing clinically appropriate treatment to address the underlying issue, which often takes many sessions).
I also know that good therapists charge good money for what they do. As I mentioned in my blog “Top 3 Myths about Therapy”, counselor training requires many years of education, supervision, direct and indirect client hours, internships, and experience. All of which, in turn, require a lot of money, effort, energy, and hard work. In fact, our training and hard work never really stops even after we receive our clinical license because we are required to obtain continuing education and ethics courses every year. And while I can technically continue helping clients with complying with those bare minimum state requirements, I did not pursue this amazing career to be a mediocre therapist. So, I do a lot of additional trainings to be great at what I do, and my session rate reflects that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all cheap therapists are not good. All I am saying is that a lot of times the way life works is that you get what you paid for. And if you think, therapy is expensive, think what divorce will cost you. Think about what dealing with mental/physical health problems on a daily basis will cost you. Or just reflect on this-what is the value of being happy for you? Then, make your decision from there.
Truth # 2: Therapy will make you feel worse before you will feel better
A lot of clients, when they initially come to see me, expect to feel better right away. Like in the first session. Which, by the way, makes a lot of sense because they have been struggling with a particular issue for awhile, have gathered the courage to finally seek help for it, and naturally expect and want to get better asap. Also, it doesn’t help that we live in a culture of instant gratification where we expect quick fixes and instant results. You should see how stupidly mad I get when it takes an extra second for a new page to load on my laptop. I get it. People are crazy busy nowadays and are always running out of time. But the way therapy works is a little different. Let me explain.
Because we are going to bring up things that you have been shoving under your bed for quite some time now (often several years), it might re-trigger your pain points, making you feel uncomfortable. That’s very normal, I assure you. Good news is that it will be temporary even though it’s absolutely necessary to go through this process because the only way out is through. You need to make contact with your pain in order to process it, distill it, make sense of it, and share it with your partner (if you are doing couples therapy) before you create a new experience, a new story, and feel better. This is just how therapy stuff works, there is no way around it. Understand that even though most of my clients feel worse before they feel better, it does not apply to all of my clients. Some people cope with life stressors slightly different than the majority.
I would also like to mention that this is where some clients start questioning whether they “really need therapy” because they only seem to be getting worse. Some report “dreading therapy” and wanting to cancel their weekly appointment. Again, completely normal. I always encourage my clients to bring up their concerns and dread during our time together, so we can talk about it. Therapy is a perfect place for this! If you commit to psychotherapy or counseling and work hard, you will be rewarded with a life that you really want. Remember that all things are worth having require work and dedication. Therapy is just one of them.
Truth # 3: You will to stay in therapy for awhile
I realize that this is a very contradictory statement to make because there are a lot of therapists out there who specialize in brief short-term treatment that lasts between 5-15 sessions. Many EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) also allow between 5-8 sessions before they expect people to magically get cured. Obviously, you can sense that I am a little biased against brief treatment. And the reason being is that I don’t think brief treatment is effective because of it’s length. Well, at least not for the clients I see in my private practice in Wake Forest and online. And these clients are simply struggling with relationship issues, making them feel stuck and hopeless. They are smart, successful, and accomplished otherwise.
To give you a more specific idea about the average treatment length, most of my clients have between 30-45 sessions. Many clients choose to stay much longer than that. The frequency might change once some of the bigger symptoms subside, meaning that we switch from meeting weekly to meeting biweekly or every 3 weeks or so. But clients still keep coming because they know they still have work to do. Even personally, I do not trust a 3-month change because I know that this change probably won’t last. It took several years for that problem to develop, how can it take 3 months for it to magically go away? Just doesn’t happen.
I hope this helps you to better understand therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, and coaching in Wake Forest, North Carolina. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (703) 347-3200 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with your relationships or marriage, you can read more about how I can help here.