For most of us, the idea of walking into a stranger's office, sitting on a well-worn couch next to some abstract art (probably a small fountain or two), and discussing our greatest fears,  struggles, hopes, dreams, and failures doesn't sound appealing. I get that.

And yet, life has a tendency to serve up more than we can handle. It's not unusual to feel overwhelmed, lost, confused, even tormented at times. In these moments, we often are willing to take risks to deal with the latest curveball.

Psychotherapy can be one way to help cope with difficulties. Most of us feel terribly alone in our struggles. There are probably few people (or no one) we can really talk to. Therapy can be a place where we open ourselves to new things, make and sustain changes, and find more ease in our life. 

Though the specific reasons folks seek therapy are unique to each person, most look for therapy for some combination of the reasons below. 

Relating to Our Minds

Maybe you worry all the time, or deal with a constant level of anxiety that leaves you feeling drained and disconnected. Maybe it feels like no matter what you do, you're stuck in a rut and can't climb out. You may feel despondent, sad, and lost. Maybe you can't seem to get certain thoughts out of your head, are terrified something bad might happen all the time, or find it impossible not to drink more and more. Our minds can cause us enormous suffering. 

Relating to Others

Why do I keep running into this same problem with my friends? Why do I always date people who treat me this way? How come I keep fighting with my family about the same things? Why can't I get close to people? It's not unusual to find patterns cropping up in our relationships despite our best efforts. Because our relationships with others are often the most important thing in our lives, they are also often the source of our greatest suffering.

Relating to Life

What am I supposed to be doing here? Why am I alive at all? What do I want to do, to be? Sometimes, our lives don't seem to make any sense and it feels impossible to fit in. Sometimes these questions come on the heels of some tragedy which shatters what we thought we knew about the world. Strangely, sometimes these questions arise very strongly after something very good happens, like the birth of a child, or a deep spiritual experience. Finally, these most often come up during transitional periods, such as starting school, ending a relationship, or moving to a new career. While they offer an opportunity for enormous personal growth, they are often distressing.

So how, exactly, can therapy help?