by Maya Capasso
Medically Reviewed by:
Bethany Juby, PsyD
by Maya Capasso
Medically Reviewed by:
Bethany Juby, PsyD
There can be various barriers to getting therapy. Here are some ways to overcome them so you can get the help you deserve.
As someone who has seen more than five therapists over the past decade, I know how tough it can be to go through the process of finding a therapist.
But taking the time and effort to find the right therapist has saved my life countless times.
If you’ve considered getting a therapist for a while now but haven’t bit the bullet and started the search yet, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth the hassle.
Whether that means a person in treatment feels happier, can manage stress more efficiently, or improves their interpersonal relationships, therapy can meaningfully improve their mental health.
Many of therapy’s benefits have helped me cope with my depression.
A therapist is someone I can rely on to listen to my emotions without gossiping about me with my friends and family.
In fact, therapists are required to keep your information confidential unless you give them permission to disclose something for professional reasons. Their license depends on this confidentiality, so you can trust your therapist to keep your secrets while you vent to them and process your thoughts and emotions.
The only time your therapist might need to share your personal information is if you indicate that you or someone else is in danger, and they have to notify authorities. But even in these situations, they will only share necessary information.
Therapy can teach you essential coping skills that help you get through your worst mental health days.
Through many years of treatment, I’ve created a toolbox of skills that help me manage my emotions when I’m going through it.
For example, my therapist encourages me to write in a journal regularly to help me gain more clarity about my thoughts and feelings.
My therapist helps me understand my unruly emotions and process my ever-racing thoughts. If you struggle to identify your emotions or cope with intense feelings, your therapist can help you manage them. If your thoughts constantly criticize you, your therapist can teach you techniques to calm your turbulent mind and find peace.
If one type of therapy doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean that none will. Some therapists provide different therapeutic modalities, and together, you can figure out which one might work best for you. Or you can be referred to a different therapist that specializes in the type of treatment you need.
Different therapy approaches work better for some than others, so it’s worth exploring your options.
Therapy approaches that are often used to treat depression include:
Each uses different techniques to lessen someone’s struggles. To read more about my personal journey with DBT, check out this article.
One of my favorite things about therapy is that it allows people to find a name for their struggles. Before I went to therapy, I thought I was lazy and entitled for lying in bed all day and told myself that I was the problem.
After seeking professional help, my therapists helped me learn that I’m not lazy — I suffer from a debilitating mental health condition. It helped eliminate a lot of the shame that comes with the societal stigma of mental illness.
Despite evidence suggesting that therapy can be extremely helpful and healing for those with mental health issues, many people put off finding a therapist because of various barriers that make accessing therapy a challenge.
These barriers are very real — such as the financial cost of treatment, the time it takes to find the right therapist, and the fear that therapy won’t help. At the same time, there are ways to push back against these challenges that make the process run a bit more smoothly.
Financial strain is one of the most significant barriers that keep people from seeking professional mental health help.
According to Forbes, in the United States, the average cost of therapy is $100–200 per 50-minute session, and many people require treatment once per week.
Some therapists accept health insurance, but many do not. Plus, many people in the United States don’t have access to health insurance in the first place. The only therapy my insurance has paid for are intensive programs like inpatient hospitalization and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).
However, many therapists recognize the impact of financial strain on access to therapy, and some offer sliding scale fees. This means that they offer services at a lower cost for individuals with lower incomes. It’s always worth asking therapists about their payment options.
While it’s undeniable that therapy is costly and out of many people’s price ranges, it’s also important to remember that mental health conditions can be expensive too. When my depression gets bad, I can’t work because it’s so difficult for me to get out of bed. If I can’t work, I won’t make any money.
And the cost of mental health conditions isn’t all about finances. When my depression goes untreated, it sucks out my ability to enjoy life.
If I have extra money to spend, spending it on therapy rather than something more exciting, like a video game console, is worth every penny, in my opinion.
Perhaps you want to seek mental health care but are held back by your fears about therapy and therapists.
”What if I can’t find a therapist who understands me?” ”What if I spend all that time, energy, and money to work with a therapist, and I still don’t feel any better?”
These fears are understandable, especially if you struggle with reigning in your overactive negative thoughts.
I’ve combated these fears in my past by journaling about them. I like to write down all the fears that come to mind and then go through each, picking them apart.
For example, if the fear that I’ll never find the right therapist keeps holding me back, I’ll devise a way to assuage that fear a bit. I could come up with a list of questions to ask potential therapists during our introductory session. That way, when the fear reappears, I can remind myself that I have a plan to prevent my fears from playing out.
I also like to think about my fear and ask myself, “What is the worst-case scenario if this were to happen?”
Take the fear that therapy won’t make me feel better. I’ve often struggled with this fear when I’m at my lowest. But what is the worst-case scenario of me seeking help from therapy and it doesn’t help me?
I still feel bad, and I’ve spent a couple of hundred dollars. And at the same time, I know I’m trying my best and that there are still other treatment avenues to pursue. I can get a new therapist with a different technique and try again. In fact, I may have even learned something about my needs!
Following the fear through to what actually would happen if it came true helps me realize that my worries feel more dangerous than they actually are.
Finding a new therapist takes time. Researching available therapists in your area specializing in your specific challenges takes a lot of energy. And we live in a busy world where free time can be scarce.
No one wants to spend the time they could use relaxing on the couch with their favorite TV show to search for therapists. I get it. But there are ways to make the process less daunting and more streamlined.
For example, seek the support of your trusted friends and family members while you search. They can listen to you vent about the process, and some may even volunteer to help you look for the right one.
Suppose you recruit a couple of helpers to develop a list of therapists in your area. Together you can search trusted databases, like APA’s psychologist locator, to find some good options. In that case, it will take less time and can be a bonding experience.
Another thing that’s helped me overcome this hurdle in the past is to set aside 30 minutes every day or week to tackle the therapist search. Splitting the search into small increments feels more manageable than spending hours at a time conducting your search. And then, you can reward yourself with a more relaxing activity afterward!
My parents first told me they wanted me to get a therapist when I was 14, and I was hesitant. I didn’t want to meet up with a bunch of different therapists to find the right one. I didn’t want to go at all.
But my mom helped me stay on track and patiently brought me to many different therapists before we landed on the right one for me.
Fast forward 11 years, and I look forward to speaking with my therapist every week. She helps me stay on track with my recovery and notices when I begin to slip. She helps me question my distorted beliefs, understands how to regulate my emotions, and improves my interpersonal relationships.
She makes me feel supported, understood, and validated.
Therapy is the most effective tool in my life that keeps my head above water on my lifelong journey to recover from major depressive disorder (MDD). Therapy saves lives, and it could save yours too.
While many barriers prevent people from seeking out therapy to help improve their mental health, pursuing therapy is worth it.
Therapy allows me to seek a full life that I never thought possible.
Medically reviewed on September 11, 2023
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About the author
Maya (she/they) is a professional freelance writer and cold pitch coach. Her writing is featured in TransLash News & Narrative, HorrorPress, the Episodes Newsletter, and more. They’re passionate about mental health advocacy and social justice. She manages the Accessible Cold Pitch blog and email newsletter to help freelancers connect with their ideal clients. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.