Why You Should Go to a Therapist at Least Once Before You Turn 30

I’ve thought about this entry for a while now, and partially thanks to a good conversation I had the other day with a friend, I think it’s ready. Below are a few reasons why I think it’s a good idea for everyone to go see a therapist at least once before turning 30.

  1. You can stop disdaining therapists and people who go to therapists. I went to two therapists for a few months each in my mid-20s. I had a really hard time doing that because up until that point I had really looked down on the profession and the “type” of person who needed therapy (I put that in quotes to show my previous ignorance). I thought people were weak for going to therapy and that therapists preyed on the weak. But that’s not at all true. It really isn’t. If you feel that way at all, go see a therapist for a month and you’ll understand.
  2. You can stop using your friends and significant others as therapists. We all have things we’re working through. Every day, all the time. Pobody’s nerfect, as Pam would say. And we all deal with that stuff in different ways–there’s a spectrum of externalization and internalization. For people who externalize their processes and need to talk out their issues, it’s very easy to turn to friends and significant others. To a certain extent, that’s okay. But if they develop into ongoing discussions, you haven’t realized it, but you just turned your friend or husband or wife into a therapist. And that’s not their job. That’s not their role. If might be really difficult to realize that’s what you’re doing until you talk to a therapist and realize how you’ve been using the people around you as your therapists.
  3. You can recommend it to someone who really needs it. Not everyone needs ongoing therapy. But sometimes you might see that someone in your life could really benefit from therapy, and soon. If you haven’t been to a therapist, then who are you to suggest that to them? Going to a therapist–even for a short time–gives you the perspective and clout to offer that suggestion (tactfully) to someone you know who really needs it. Consider this a way to make a hugely positive impact on a loved one’s life.
  4. You can vastly improve the success rate of your marriage…even before the wedding. Especially before the wedding, actually. One of the top three indicators for a successful marriage is if you see counseling as a couple before getting married. It’s a chance for you to put a lot of things on the table and make sure you’re making the right choice. The article I read suggested that all couples do this even if they’re perfectly happy before getting married. It’s such a high indicator of success that if you truly want your marriage to work out, it’s a no-brainer.

Perhaps it’ll help my case that this is coming from someone (me) who did not have a good experience with therapy. I saw the value, but I really struggled with the idea that it’s to the therapist’s financial benefit not to help me solve my problem. Because the longer I’m in therapy, the more money they make. Sure, it’s unethical, but therapists are human too.

Despite that, I think the reasons above state a pretty solid case for everyone to experience at least a taste of therapy before turning 30. What do you think?

Oh! And I captured my cat doing something that I’ve never been able to get on camera before. Watch the work-friendly 17-second video here. It’s pretty amazing.


9 Responses to “Why You Should Go to a Therapist at Least Once Before You Turn 30”

  1. Christine says:

    Does it count if a parent is a therapist? My mom is a psychologist and I always joke to people that therefore I have been in therapy my whole life 🙂
    Seriously though, my mother is incredibly adept at asking just the question to get you talking, especially about things you never had any intention of talking about. It’s quite dangerous really.

    As far as your comment about struggling with the idea that it’s to the therapists benefit not to help you—I find that very weird. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up with a psychologist and I know how personally she takes the progress of her patients, but I find it weird that you think that about therapists and not a physician, or countless other professions. Honestly, it’s also in your doctor’s best interest to keep you sick so you come in for visits. There are two reasons why that doesn’t work. The majority of doctors, both mental and physical, really do care about your well being. Often that’s why they chose their profession. The second reason is quite simply, if you’re not making progress with one physician, you switch. You go out and get a second opinion. That happens with therapists as much as it does with physicians.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Christine–That’s great that your mother is so adept at asking the right questions. My parents aren’t therapists, so I really don’t know if they could take the place of a therapist who is not your parent.

      I definitely agree that it’s weird for me to focus on the financial “incentive” that therapists have to keep you in therapy. I don’t think it’s quite the same with doctors, because it’s very rare that you see a doctor as much as you see a therapist. Really, it comes down to trust. There are plenty of therapist out there, so if I find that I don’t trust the one I’m with to be ethical, I can just find another instead of solidifying that lack of trust.

      I will say, though, that I think a person’s first visit to a therapist should be free. That gives the client a chance to see if that that therapist is a decent fit for them. It’s like test driving a car before you buy it. I think starting off in that way would set the tone for a more trusting relationship, as it shows the client that the therapist is only going to accept payment if the client is a good fit for them.

  2. Anne Riley says:

    My husband and I did weeks of premarital counseling when we were engaged. It was really good and I am so glad we did it. My sister and her husband go to counseling about once every six months, just to “get their oil changed,” as they call it. I’ve been considering this for Rob and me for a while now. Not that we have “problems” so much as I just think it’s good to do. People maintain everything else in their lives; why do we think relationships are any exception?

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Anne–That’s a really great point, the idea of going to therapy every now and then simply to get your oil changed (idea: a therapy office where you can get your mind’s oil changed while the therapist changes your car’s oil!). Making it a habit is a commitment to personal growth, opposed to only using therapy when you feel like you need it.

  3. Red says:

    To me, because friendships and relationships are built on trust and common experience, those with whom you share this connection are the ideal sounding board for things that give you trepidation. Trust is already established, they often don’t need the back story, becauce they’ve lived it alongside you. Their opinions are intrinsically valuable to you, or you would not have established the relationship.

    What do the roles of Best Friend or Spouse mean if there is a line between things you can and can’t discuss? I need a better understanding of what you would share with a therapist, that you wouldn’t share with your best friend, OR with you wife (I say “or” because if one is bothering you, the other person would be your counselor).

    I agree with the idea of couples counceling, because there should be a way for all parties in a relationship to voice their goals and expectations with a professional third party to ensure balance and equity.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Red–I think this somewhat illustrates my point. You can’t fully understand that you’re using a friend/lover as a therapist until you experience therapy.

      That said, you have a good point. You should be able to talk about deep issues with people who are close to you. But sometimes those issues are very one sided, and that’s when it becomes therapy instead of conversation.

      It’s kind of like getting a physical trainer, as you did this year. You went out and paid someone to fill that one-sided role for you. Maybe you worked out with friends during that time, but that was something you did together with your friends opposed to the one-sided nature of the paid training.

  4. Jasmin says:

    “Pobody”… Heehee… That’s even funnier after reading the poo post.

    Anyway, my mom and friends are my life consultants. I go to them for advises or just want to talk some stuff out. I think a therapist is the same purpose. I don’t mind lending out my ears, but I’m not a professional. I wouldn’t want my friends think I’m their therapist and via versa. That’s a little much. If I ever need one, I know some people who are going to be psychologists, so I hope for a discount in the near future.

  5. […] Entry to Write That Peopled Seemed to Overlook the Point of Award goes to Anne for her comment on this entry about therapy: “My husband and I did weeks of premarital counseling when we were engaged. It was really […]

  6. […] If You Choose Not to Follow Their Feedback the First Time and Your Solution Doesn’t Work, Try Their Solution. Just do it. Try it. If you value the person’s time and advice, follow their feedback and see if it works. Then report back to them. And if you asked that person just to listen to you the first time, the next time you go to them about the same situation, it’s time for you to ask for their advice and to act on it. Friends are not therapists. […]

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