On the face of it, even we have to admit that the idea of talking therapy can seem pretty weird. It can be daunting, sitting in a room with a perfect stranger telling them all your innermost secrets and darkest fears.
The thing is, when you actually try it - once you get used to the idea - it really doesn’t feel that strange after all. To most people, with the right therapist, it feels comforting, healing and even transformative.
That said, it’s natural to be nervous of new things, things we’ve never tried before, or things that push us outside our comfort zone. But when it comes to therapy, there’s really no need to be afraid. More often than not the benefits far outweigh the negative feelings you might experience at the beginning.
So whether you’re considering traditional counselling, family and relationship counselling or sex therapy, hopefully this article will go some way towards giving you the confidence you need to give it a go.
If you’re struggling with the idea of therapy there could be plenty of reasons you’re feeling the way you are. Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with it in the past, or you’re worried what others may think of you. Or maybe you’re simply not sure what to expect from each session.
You might feel like the things you’ll end up sharing with a stranger are things you are ashamed and embarrassed to admit even to yourself. Spoiler alert: there’s almost nothing your therapist won’t have heard before.
It’s usually the case that if you’ve reached the point of attending therapy you’ll have been struggling with a particular issue for a good while. A period of time over which you have not been able to come to any kind of lasting or meaningful resolution. Those feelings of frustration and desperation can actually work against you to charge the situation and make it feel like there is additional pressure on you.
One issue we often see, particularly in men, is not wanting to admit they have a problem that can’t be solved without help. While we often like to think we have all the answers, sometimes things become a whole lot simpler when we involve the experts.
In fact, it can actually be quite a relief to talk to someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in you or what you do. For once you can simply talk rather than worrying about what the other person is thinking, how they are judging you or when it’s your turn to have to listen to and empathize with them. Therapy is ALL about you.
Therapy is becoming more and more common. And this normalization is great when it comes to encouraging people to access services and overcome mental illnesses.
It’s to be expected that the pandemic has had an impact. A YouGov poll from August 2020 found that 31 percent of Americans thought their mental health had worsened during the crisis.
New data from The Mental Health Foundation found that nearly a quarter (23%) of 18-to 24-year-olds in the US say they’ve sought mental health counselling during the pandemic. And overall 44.8% of adults aged 18 or older received mental health services in 2021. This rate was higher for females than males.
In the UK meanwhile, 2020/21 saw the NHS refer 1.46 million people to talking therapies, while there was also a notable rise in the demand for private counsellors or therapists too.
Access to help can vary depending on where you are in the world.
There are a lot of therapists out there but their expertise, experience and training vary. Trying to find a licensed therapist that suits you can be a daunting experience. Best advice is where possible do your research, think about the most important factors for you – does gender matter for instance, or age? Follow up with as many questions as you feel you need to ask and think about how comfortable you feel with this person and whether you’ll be able to build a rapport.
Unfortunately, in countries that have health insurance based care, psychological services are often not covered. This sometimes makes seeking treatment prohibitively expensive. The Mental Health Foundation study above found that 25% of people seeking help in the US have been faced with having to choose between daily necessities and paying for mental health care.
In the UK, the NHS offers care, free at the point of service, either as a referral from a GP or a self-referral. The downside of these approaches is that wait times can be very long. It’s reported that waiting times last year ranged from 4 to 86 days for first treatment (the average being 21 days) and substantially longer (on average 53 days) between first and second treatments. Unfortunately support for sexual issues, or sex therapy, is patchy in terms of its availability. In some areas of the UK there is simply no service available on the NHS at all.
Perhaps one of the few positives that came out of the pandemic was the forced move away from in person therapy to online. As we were unable to meet in person, clients and therapists became used to communicating via video call. For many this made the service more accessible, less time-consuming and less ‘scary’. But it didn’t necessarily make sessions with mental health professionals any cheaper.
Digital therapy can provide a more affordable way to get started with therapy. Particularly for specific branches of support such as sex therapy. The Blueheart app is designed to deliver a sex therapy experience in a step-by-step programme. It allows you and your partner to discover at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.
After an initial assessment to make sure you’re starting from the right place, Blueheart will take you through a science-backed series of touch-based exercises that will help you reconnect emotionally, reduce anxiety levels around sex, improve communication skills and move together towards a healthier sex life if that’s what you both want. Give it a go if your ready, we offer a free 14-day trial.