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Why would someone come to therapy?

I’ve been updating my website and I became aware that there is very little on there about why someone could or would come to therapy, and that feels something really important.

There are are variety of situations that bring people to therapy;

~Something in the present that someone wants to change.
~Something in the past that is causing a problem in some way.
~Something in the future that someone is focused on, in some way.

That said, I am a firm believer that anything that brings someone to therapy is a valid reason to come to therapy and also, that anyone can benefit from therapy, because, by nature, we are human beings, and we are complex, and we are always taking in and processing and dealing with new and different situations.

Whilst it feels important to break those down and look at them in more detail, it’s also important to note that it would be highly unlikely that it would be as clear cut as one of those things, but this may be what initially brings someone to therapy.

Something in the present that someone wants to change.

So, if you’re in this situation, you likely have something going on right at the moment, that you want to change.  It could be you’re having problems at work and are struggling to cope with them, it could be you’re having difficulties in your relationship and you’re not sure what to do. It could be that you just want to feel different, but you don’t know what or why you feel as you do. It might be you have a condition that you need some help to manage. You might be trying to work out what to do with your life. You might be struggling socially and be feeling alone, or isolated, or something else. You might be feeling disconnected from yourself or like you want to know yourself more, or be more self aware. You might have some emotions that you’re struggling with, like shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, sadness, or something else, that you want to change.

With present day challenges, there can be a need to look at the past and the future as well, although, not always, and it does depend on the kind of therapy that you have.
Something in the past that is causing a problem in some way.

The ‘past’ can be something that happened in childhood, or it could be something that happened yesterday, or a week ago, or a month or year ago. What you experienced in the past, whatever that might be, if it brings you to therapy, then it is causing a problem in some way. That could be in the form of flashbacks to a specific event, it could be something that happened that affects how you connect or communicate with others, it could bring fear or anxiety in something you’re doing. You might have experienced a trauma, or an abusive relationship, or a challenging childhood, or been bullied at school. You might have dropped out of uni or not achieved the GCSEs you wanted. You might have had a moment or experience where you felt humiliated or embarrassed. You might feel you failed at something you tried or wanted to do.

It could also be that things are really good at the moment, but that you know things could be even better if you were to look at and work on something that has happened.

By the very way that human beings are made, everything that happens in the past is taken inside and adds to all our experiences and shapes who we are as people, how we interact, how we work, how we function. We may not even realise that something that happened so long ago, still impacts us now.

We all have a past, and working on things that happened in the past can really make positive changes that impacts the present and the future. We can’t change the past, but we can change how we feel about it or how it impacts us in the present. Alongside looking at the past, it could be that you will end up looking at both the present and the future, as all tie in together.
Something in the future someone is focused on.

The future can be something that’s going to happen tomorrow, or weeks, months or years away. It could also be related to your own mortality (which is something that often brings people to therapy). Alongside death, dying and mortality, a focus in the future can be many other things. It might be you have a job interview you’re nervous about or want to succeed at. It might be that you want to become something or achieve something, either professionally or personally. It could be that you want to lose weight for a specific occasion. It could be that you struggle with anxieties about specific situations. You might want to stop smoking for a particular reason.

Coming to therapy for a reason linked to the future can feel empowering and it can also mean that there will be the need to look at both the present and the past too, although, not always.

The beauty of coming to therapy with all of those things is that;
~You’re working with someone who is totally out of all the situations and who is completely neutral and is there for you.
~You won’t be judged, you will just be accepted, whatever it is that brings you.
~You’re working with someone who is trained and experienced and will use all of that to benefit you.
~You’re working with someone who doesn’t have the personal agenda of you that people in your life have of you, they only have belief in you.
~You can work at your own space and pace to navigate through whatever it is.
~You get time and space in between sessions to process whatever you have done within the session.
~As well as many other things… but I guess that’s for another blog post!

Ultimately though, whatever brings you to therapy, that’s ok. It doesn’t need to go into a category from my point of view. If you want to come, then that’s enough for me. You will be welcomed. However, for you, the client, it can sometimes be helpful to know and understand what it is that is bringing you, or how it is impacting you, or where it is impacting you. Reading about why people come to therapy can be hugely useful.

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