Terrified of Seeing a Therapist

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’ve always had problems with depression and never saw anyone about it. It’s only gotten worse and lately it’s gotten almost unbearable.
My husband and I have briefly discussed me going to see someone about it, but I’m absolutely terrified. Now it seems that just because we talked about it a little bit, he thinks that means I’m seriously going to do it so he keeps pushing it like crazy. I really hate talking about things and just the anxiety I feel thinking about going to an appointment like that makes me feel awful, and I don’t usually have anxiety problems!

And there are other reasons why I don’t want to get started with this (which I’m sure only sound like excuses): my first 8 sessions would be covered under insurance, but I know that I have enough problems built up over my life that things won’t be made better in just 4 or 8 weeks. We can’t exactly afford the costs of this after that. I’m afraid that I’d get started, and even if it started helping, then I’d either have to drop it or feel guilty for spending money we don’t have towards it.

Not only that, but both of our vehicles are so old they are barely hanging on, and therapy would require me to drive 100 miles round trip for every appointment, not to mention the cost in gas alone. Need I explain that worry?

And I’m afraid that I’d finally work up the guts to do it, and it wouldn’t help. All you hear about online is how you have to do research and find the best therapist who you can connect with. I don’t really have a choice in therapists, and there aren’t ANY reviews online for any therapists in this town either, even if I had the choice. Who knows if it’ll work? I’m afraid that if I finally try it and then I’m let down, I’ll be worse off than I was before.

We may or may not move this year to (hopefully) a bigger town, so I was considering just putting it all off and waiting for that. Of course, we might not move at all and I’d still be stuck here in the same position. I just don’t know what the wiser thing is to do.

A: Please tell your husband for me to back off. Nagging you to go to therapy isn’t helpful. Being loving and offering to go with you for at least the first couple of sessions might be. Ask him to please only talk about it if he can offer concrete help and support.

To respond to your other points: Therapy has the most impact in the first few sessions. It’s definitely worth going for the 8. Then take a break and work on integrating what you learned. Another year will roll around and you can do another 8 if you feel the need.

I certainly understand the worry about the cars. Have you considered online therapy? Some therapists are now offering the option of using Skype or a chat as a way to do at least some of your sessions.

You’re right. It may not help. You may get an incompetent therapist. You may not have many choices. But — if you don’t try, you’ll never know if it could have helped. You may find yourself with a jewel of a therapist. The only choice may be the right choice for you.

You’re also right: If you don’t move, you’ll be in the same position. For that matter, you could keep yourself in the same position if you do move. That’s up to you.

You know what I think? I think writing your letter was a first step in getting ready to get ready to try therapy. You’re getting warmed up. I know that you know that if you could solve your own problems, you would have done so already. So I think you’re working on getting used to the idea. I hope you will take a deep breath, gather up your courage, and give it a go. To give therapy a jumpstart, take your letter with you to your first session or talk about your anxiety when you make the phone call for an appointment. I did mean what I said about your husband as well. Consider taking him with you. It may be that his behavior is contributing to your anxiety and depression. A few couples sessions may do you both a lot of good.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Terrified of Seeing a Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/21/terrified-of-seeing-a-therapist/