DO I REALLY NEED THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL? Probably not. Did that answer surprise you?This is how I think about it:Most problems of daily living are centuries old.Psychotherapy is a relatively new profession.Dabbling in it started a little over a hundred years.It became a real profession about 50-60 years ago.The really solid science related to what makes for good psychotherapy outcomes is about 30-35 years old. So, what did everyone do before psychotherapy was available?They did stuff that works, and stuff that will work for you, too.They talked it their friends, sisters or other people in the family, co-workers, people with a lot of wisdom, people who had been through it before. They asked their pastors, their physicians, their teachers, or their elders.They got advice that was usually free or cheap and often good enough.And maybe that would work for you. Or they went with something that didn’t include dialogue. They read. They prayed. They studied. They meditated. They exercised. They traveled. They wrote. They did art. They came up with other ideas on their own and tried them and often those things worked just fine.And maybe some of those things would work for you, too. So why would people ever seek the services as a psychologist or a psychotherapy professional? Usually people do so because one or more some of these situations are true:
1.They’ve exhausted all the other good (and free) options and things still aren’t the way they need or want them to be.
2.The matters they wish to discuss have very private features to them and they want to discuss them in an absolutely private place with the protection of complete confidentiality.
3.The matters are very important and perhaps pretty complicated and they have been discussing them with their inner circle, but eventually they realize that their well-meaning family and friends are not professionals; they are only equipped to give common-sense advice and sometimes the situation demands something more and better than common-sense.
4.They’re hoping to get the situation solved in a high quality way as efficiently as possible. They’re in a hurry, they have no need to re-invent wheels, and they are not fans of the curvy path of “trial-and-error.”They prefer the “straight-line” that experts can provide.These folks usually see the value of using a personal trainer to get better results from exercise; they seek spiritual directors to get better results from their prayer and meditation; they sign up for classes with experts on finances, etc. They want to use time-tested, scientifically-validated approaches to problem solving.They don’t want “good-enough-results-sometime-in-the-future.”They want really good results and they want them now, or as soon as humanly possible.
By the way, though most people don’t “need” the help of a professional, the researchers have repeatedly found that when people seek the help of a professional they are about 35% better off than people who are trying to solve the same problems on their own, or using the help of family/friends, or basing their efforts on “common sense.”