When you are in a professional role or a parent, one that other people look to for advice, it's difficult to be on the end that is asking for help. And, yet, being the person who carries the responsibility for success for others causes stress, exhaustion and makes many lawyers question their life choices. This may breed resentment, frustration, and anger directed towards others because there is nothing left to give.
Therapy, when you are with a therapist that fits for you, can be a rebalancing experience, a sounding board. Many people are concerned that therapy will bring out their vulnerabilities and make things worse--so keeping issues locked up is a better solution.
Imagine breaking your arm and instead of having it placed in a cast you let it heal naturally. It will heal but you will not have full use of the arm. Therapy is like getting that broken arm set in a supportive environment that is protective and yet challenges you to move closer to your true self.
So what is the First Step? Well, in my view it's picking up the phone to make the call to a psychologist near you. It's never an easy call and so many people I speak with say, "oh you picked up?" Which prompts me to think, "Well of course I picked up, my phone rang."
I'll demystify this process (at least with me)
Following this exchange I often will ask the voice on the other end of the phone, "How can I help?" Whether it's a five minute talk about how their son is not doing their homework, falling behind, and no longer caring about their performance or a 15 minute talk about how someone is unhappy with how their relationships do not workout. To me these first few minutes are a critical part of establishing a connection or "rapport," which is THE KEY COMPONENT to successful therapy.
After the brief explanation about the reason you are calling, I will explain to you my psychotherapy approach which goes something like this, "I believe in the importance of the therapeutic rapport or relationship. We will first work to develop a strong foundation or tools to managing the symptoms causing distress (typically some CBT coping skills) but it's my view the underlying issues are what triggering the anxiety, depression, resentment, relationship difficulties, or struggling to cope with changes in life."
I'll then ask you how you feel about this approach and if this fits with what you want to get out of therapy and if it does we set up an appointment to meet. I typically end the call by saying if there are any further questions prior to our meeting, to reach out and I'll be happy to address them.
As I wrote above, therapy is a place where those who are overworked, stressed, and relied upon by others can gain the opportunity to not seem like they have it all together. To ask for help to not know what to do. And, together, we will develop a more coherent plan to tackle the challenges of life. So you don't become overwhelmed with the demands of life and your relationships become stronger.
Matthew Love, Psy.D is a licensed clinical psychologist who treats, children, adolescents, college-age students, and adults who are are experiencing anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and life transition difficulties. He has a specific focus in working with adults in high performing industries such as elite sports, lawyers, and medical professionals. In addition to his therapeutic work, Dr. Love has written and lectured on the sexual abuse of males and the under disclosure of sexual abuse in male sports.