Do I need therapy? And should I pay for it?
Are you finding it a struggle to cope with stress or anxiety at home or work, or with your own feelings, thoughts or actions? According to Mind, the mental health charity, 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem every year (1)
It's an incredibly common experience to feel anxious, angry or down - these feelings are perfectly normal and natural - they are our emotions telling us we need to pay attention and possibly that we need to change something. It's when our emotions begin to overwhelm us that real problems begin. We ignore our emotions at our peril.
Sometimes it can be difficult to cope with stressful events or the actions and attitudes of others, even to understand our own thoughts, feelings and actions, and to manage our anxiety to make good decisions to help ourselves feel better - (some people might even have come to believe they are 'hard-wired' to react badly to difficult events). And it's even more difficult if you are feeling judged or misunderstood by those around you.
You might go to your GP for help - they might suggest eating more healthily, getting more exercise, connecting with other people more, getting better sleep etc. - but maybe you already know these things would be good for you. Perhaps you’ve tried them already and struggled doing them, or they just haven’t had the positive effect you wanted. You might have been referred to a psychological service - for which you might have to wait many months - or maybe you’ve already experienced a psychological service and found it unhelpful. You might even have been prescribed medication to alleviate the symptoms - but this won’t necessarily solve the underlying issues.
A professional, experienced therapist or counsellor can help because they are impartial, trained to listen effectively and empathise (rather than just sympathise) to help you feel understood. This may be all you need. However if you need more, they can also work with you to give you the tools and techniques you might need to help you reduce anxiety, solve problems, let go of worries, and build resilience to cope better with stress in the future.
Mental health is in the news now: even the Royal Family are talking openly about their struggles, and the stigma of mental ill-health is finally beginning to be swept away. But the sad fact is that therapy or counselling is not easily available to everyone who needs it. It should be. But it is not.
I hope that one day properly trained therapists to treat mental ill-health will be seen as just as basic and essential a need as are the doctors and nurses who treat physical ill-health.
Right now access to good therapy for those on the lowest incomes is a lottery - my hope is that good results for people who can pay for private therapy now will demonstrate the good sense of providing therapy in the future for all, for free, and that by training and paying therapists to provide this free service we can save the NHS millions in having to deal with the aftermath of so many individual mental health crises which could have been prevented.
According to Businessadvice.co.uk the average British consumer in 2017 was spending over £12 per day on luxury items like brunch, magazines and after work drinks (1). It can be easy to spend much more than we realise on small things (for example that daily takeaway coffee/bar of chocolate) which can really mount up, or sometimes to pay for things we then don't use. If we're lucky enough, anything left over might go in the bank, but any return is dependent on the whims of the stock markets. However, when you put your money into yourself, as long as you have a good therapist, you are working together with someone who genuinely has your best interests at heart, to put yourself back in control of your life; to achieve a better sense of balance, perhaps a sense of purpose, and an ability to understand and manage your emotions to enable you to live a better life.
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or coping with your feelings, and think it may be a good idea to invest in yourself and your own mental health, the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) have an online national directory of trained, registered and accredited UK therapists (2)
For some personal views on paying for therapy check out the following: