By, Roxy Simons
One of the many fields of social work is that of the mental health therapist which is often a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). According to NASW, an LCSW is “a specialty practice area of social work which focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, emotional” and other behavioral issues. In other words, licensed clinical social workers practice therapy exclusively. LCSWs practice a form of counseling that is based on discovering the patients’ skills and strengths and using them to work through any issues or grievances. Though common misconceptions often prevent us from reaching out for help, therapy helps about 80 million Americans strive to live their best life.
Common Therapy Misconceptions
People often equate therapy to paying a friend to listen to and care about your problems without providing any sort of feedback or guidance. You might imagine cold, silent academic-types in straight-backed leather chairs looking down on their out of sorts, incapable patients. Even worse, you could assume all therapists use the same judgmental, aggressive tactics as seen on shows like Dr. Phil. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Therapists are educated, trained and licensed to help you work through your problems. According to a 2004 poll, about 27 per cent of US adults employ some kind of mental health treatment. Seeking out a therapist does not mean you’re insane or a victim or helpless. Seeking a therapist means you’re willing to better yourself and the quality of your life. Chances are you have multiple friends and family members who are already in therapy. If you’re unsure about finding a LCSW, ask someone who meets with a therapist regularly for advice. You can also search various online forums.
If you’re worried about the cost, be sure to check with your insurance provider regarding their policies on the matter. If the cost is still deterring you, think of the financial consequences of not seeing a therapist. Your issues could affect your job performance, drive, and capability.
When to Consider Therapy
Each patient has their own reasons for seeking a therapist. In a lifetime, everyone will face obstacles that would benefit from professional counseling. Here are a few possible reasons why you should seek therapy:
- You’ve just experienced a traumatic situation
- You are depressed and it is affecting your lifestyle, work performance, and personal relationships
- Upsetting occurrences or traumatic events from your past are always on your mind
- You’re not sure how to cope with life’s everyday stressors
- Your friends and family have expressed concern about your behavior or disposition
- You often feel extreme anger, sadness, or depression that you can’t control
- You are suffering an addiction or substance abuse
- You aren’t interested in anything anymore, including old hobbies and passions
- Your personal relationships are suffering
Benefits of Therapy
When you see a therapist, you are actively searching for the tools and mechanisms that will help improve your lifestyle. You will learn how to cope with everyday stressors, your difficult past, and future issues that you haven’t even considered yet. Though you might not necessarily find clear solutions to all of life’s difficulties, your therapist can help you break down a problem and guide you in the steps necessary to move forward.
No one can force you to see a therapist; if you truly don’t want to be in therapy or resist the help of a therapist, you will never benefit from these sessions. The only way to truly benefit from therapy is to be open to it. Talking through your problems with a therapist will remind you that you’re not alone and help you better understand other people’s perspectives. You will learn how to better express yourself, stand up for yourself, and love yourself.