What is therapy?

Psychotherapy, or therapy, is the process of becoming aware of how our unconscious patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour affect our present lives. The goal is to alleviate emotional distress through insight into ourselves and others. This insight comes through talking about things we may not feel comfortable talking about. The vulnerability we feel in therapy can be very real and is often off-putting. Therapy may feel like a big step to take towards improving our mental health, so congratulations on wanting to take the first step!

Who needs therapy?

The stigma around therapy generally implies that we need to be seriously mentally ill to attend therapy. This myth is often reinforced by what we see in the movies, and what we hear from friends and family. The truth is that therapy is for everyone, and the worries that trouble us are more common than we think.

I’ve decided to start therapy, what now?

Therapy requires a certain level of commitment so there are a few things to think about once we’ve decided to start the therapeutic process:

  • We need to find a good fit when looking for the right therapist for us. We’re all different, and so are therapists. This may mean seeing a few therapists, which may be frustrating, before finding the right one for you.
  • We need to consider cost and payment options. If we are planning to claim through medical aid, it may be a good idea to contact them to check for benefits.
  • We need to consider if we wish to proceed with online video sessions, or if we prefer face-to-face sessions. If we prefer face-to-face sessions, we should consider proximity to our therapist – it is logistically helpful to attend therapy near where we live or work.
  • We need to prepare ourselves for the possible initial feelings that may arise in our first few sessions. This sensation may be overwhelming in the beginning but should settle once we become more therapy fit.

Check out these videos by The School of Life explaining therapy!

How psychotherapy works
What we might learn in couples therapy