The Top 6 Reasons Why You Haven’t Started Therapy

August 10,2012

1. “It’s too much of a time commitment”
Most people see a therapist for 50 minutes per week. There are 168 hours (or 10,080 minutes) in a week. Is adding one extra hour really all that bad? Many therapists make sure to have session times available outside of the typical 9-5 workday, so morning and evening appointments are common. If you don’t have a 9-5 type of job, it should be even easier to find a therapist with availability. If you still have difficulty taking that time for yourself, try thinking of therapy as self-care, which it if course is. Do you have as hard of a time making room for other self-care activities like going to the doctor, visiting a physical therapist, seeing a masseuse, getting acupuncture, or working out? You can also think of the time that therapy might save you in the end. If you felt anxious, paralyzed, overwhelmed or depressed less often, would you be more productive? If you spent less time rehashing your past or rehearsing your future, how much more enjoyment could you get out of the present?

2. “I feel guilty spending money on myself”
This is one of the most common reasons I hear, especially from women. So many of us have a very hard time spending money on ourselves without feeling guilty. In my experience, the amount of guilt people feel is usually not related to their actual ability to pay; in other words, people still feel guilty spending money on their well-being even if they have plenty of money. It seems to be more about the act of putting ones self first than it is about handing over a check at the end of the session. If this is the case for you, it might be beneficial to take a look at the ways guilt surfaces in your life. Again, recognizing therapy as a vital component of self care is useful here. Remember that the goal of therapy is to help improve some aspect of your well-being. Would you feel the same amount of guilt paying for a doctor’s appointment? Even if finances are a strain for you, there are still plenty of options. It never hurts to explain your financial situation and ask a potential therapist if their rates are flexible. Some therapists might take student loans, medical debts, or family obligations into account when setting your fees. You can also seek out sliding-scale therapists who will base your session fees off of your income (I keep a few of these slots open in my practice). Therapists need to complete thousands of hours of counseling before sitting for their licensing exams, so there are a multitude of low-fee and sliding-scale clinics that offer therapy with students or interns.

3. “I don’t know how to find a therapist”
This is an easy problem to solve, as you can do a lot of your research online. Browse therapists’ personal websites and read their biographies and approaches to therapy. Check out therapist profiles on Psychology Today (Mine can be found here). Call several therapists and arrange for brief phone consults. Do intro sessions with a few therapists so you can compare styles and energies. Go with your gut in deciding with which therapist you feel most comfortable. And keep in mind that you can always switch therapists if the fit starts to feel off. I have my clients sign an agreement acknowledging that they can end therapy at any time, for any reason.

4. “I don’t know if therapy will work for me”
A competent therapist will be able to speak with you about your presenting issues and let you know if your goals seem reasonable. Check out my article on What Makes Therapy Effective for more on this topic. And you may be interested to know that many clients end up end up focusing on an issue different from the one they originally came in with. So even if you feel unsure that therapy will be able to “fix” your problem, it may help open the door to a deeper subject.

5. “My culture looks down on therapy”
This is a tricky one, as therapy can still be seen as taboo by many people. If therapy is denigrated by your family, culture, or race, I encourage you to take a look at the other guidelines your culture holds; do you agree with all of them? Has your life ever been negatively impacted by trying to live up to your culture’s expectations? Going against your culture or upbringing is a scary thing, but taking the time to think about whether or not you are willing to accept all of your culture’s standards can be a transformative experience.

6. “I’m not ready to change”
This is the only valid argument on this list. If you don’t feel ready to take a deeper look at your life, for whatever reason, hold off on starting therapy. No therapist can force or bully you into changing. Plus, giving yourself permission to not be ready at this time may help you feel more open to therapy at a later time.

Are you ready to to start therapy? Call (415) 658-5738 or visit my Appointments page to schedule a consultation.


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!