The Question of Therapy


Those of us who struggle with anxiety and/or other mental health conditions often have to avail ourselves of therapy.  Some of us do this with enthusiasm and others of us do this with some trepidation.  The type of therapy that we have needs to suit us as does the therapist with whom we work.  This sounds simple but it isn’t always so straightforward.  Sometimes we get lucky, other times we struggle.  If we struggle, I would say that it becomes very important not to blame ourselves.  The connection, the relationship that we have or don’t have with the therapist is massively significant.

And when we are needy and vulnerable, this isn’t always easy to assess accurately or straightaway.  The therapist also needs to be competent (not just qualified) in helping us with our difficulties.  This also doesn’t always happen.  Some therapists let the client row the boat.  At least this has happened to me on several occasions.  It’s important to realise that although we are the ones in need, we also bring a lot to the table.  We have valuable personal and human qualities, we have skills and talents, we have histories (that are often rich in emotional and psychological experience) that the therapist may or may not have at all.  

If, for example they’ve had a relatively smooth and untroubled life they may lack necessary empathy.  And empathy is vital, the right kind.  We get to decide what this looks and feels like for us.  If it’s for free (i.e. the NHS) and we get lucky, this is something to be grateful for.  If we pay and we get unlucky with the therapist, then we need to put ourselves first and persist until we get a good enough match.  (It will never be perfect and it need not be).  

I would add that the therapist needs to be a good person.  A good person is reliable, consistent and someone who doesn’t take advantage of the client in any way, including financially, no matter the resources of the client.  Good enough therapy needs to be affordable.  But you may have your own specifications and requirements.  Whatever those may be, please be wise in what you are willing to compromise on.   It is not a friendship.  Therapy is a course of treatment that should be leading towards improved mental health.

Make sure, as far as you can, that you have someone outside of therapy with whom you can connect in case you get stuck and are unsure what to do.  It can be very painful and difficult to end something that isn’t working.  This may or may not be true for you but for some people it is.  

I wish all of us the hope that alongside whatever therapy or therapist (or none) we may choose, that we cultivate hope and a sense of personal efficacy in ourselves.  If you’d like someone who can relate to having anxiety, No Panic have volunteers who are people who’ve experienced anxiety themselves.  The choices and decisions are always in our hands.  Best wishes on your well-being journey!

By Mary Peters

How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services include:
Providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.
Our aim is to give you all of the necessary advice, tools and support that you will need to recover and carry out this journey. No Panic Recovery Programs

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