Why Do People Come Into Psychotherapy?

  People come into psychotherapy for a variety of reasons.

  Some people come into therapy because Life is a hard teacher who gives the tests first and the lessons after.

  Some people come into therapy because they are in the midst of a life transition and need a safe place in which to explore who they are becoming. They may need support during the transition. They may need a caring person to hear them, who doesn’t have an agenda for the outcome of this transitional time.

  Some people come into therapy because they feel something is blocking them from being creative or successful or happy. This may be as specific as “writer’s block” or as general as always falling short of success.

  Some people come into therapy after experiencing an overwhelming event with which they are having trouble coping. They cannot feel enlivened, motivated, or calm. Things like the end (or anticipated end) of a relationship or loss of employment, the death of a loved one, becoming the victim of violent crime or of harassment, or receiving a dire medical diagnosis are examples of the sorts of life events that might cause someone to get professional help.

  Some people come into therapy because they have been struggling with who they are and how to make their lives work. Perhaps they are dissatisfied with their relationships, or are having trouble creating a meaningful life for themselves. Or perhaps the meaning they have found is negative—low self-esteem, self-destructive patterns, compulsive behaviors, or self-sabotage. Maybe they are having trouble establishing a balance between work and play. Maybe the past is haunting them and no matter what they do, it won’t be laid to rest.

   Some people come into therapy because they want to get to know themselves better, to find more peace with themselves, or to feel more at home in their inner world.

  Couples (or other relationship groupings) may seek therapy when they find themselves unable to break out of destructive patterns or when a major life event creates too large of a challenge for the relationship. Relationship therapy helps people gain insight into how they handle intimacy and increases skills for maintaining intimate relationships. This is important because relationships actually require not only love, but a lot of skill and ability to observe oneself.