Many people agree that happiness is the single most important thing in our lives. Yet, when it comes down to it, the same people might be unwilling to invest financially in their own happiness.
For some, therapy is worth a pretty penny. For others, it seems like an unnecessary splurge. Despite the cost, it’s clear that as the mental health crisis grows, therapy is becoming not only a widely accepted part of everyday life, but also a common part of many households’ monthly budgets.
Sr Sophie Moagi, clinical psychologist in Gaborone says. “Typically, people seek therapy in order to confront a problem in their life, remove some kind of roadblock or obstacle in achieving goals, manage mental health symptoms, or work on relationships (whether those be with themselves or with others in their life). There are some things that we are simply not equipped to handle on our own. Past heavy traumas and deaths are often difficult events to process. When pushed down or left unsettled, the feelings that arise from these events can lead to psychological issues, including disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many therapy techniques are specifically designed to process trauma and grief. The goal of therapy is usually to minimize the amount of negative impact that grief and trauma have on your life. This can be done in many different ways and it largely depends on the specifics of your situation. Trauma and grief are capable of altering the way that people think, feel, and act, so going to therapy to process their emotions appropriately is important.”
Therapy, specifically talk therapy or counselling, is a process in which the therapist helps a person learn more about their thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and the (possible) reasons for experiencing them. Once the person becomes aware of these thoughts and feelings, the therapist helps them learn better coping skills to deal with their emotional issues. Most therapies are focused on solving problems and are goal-oriented. They are designed to address the underlying emotional issues that lead to the person’s distress. The goals are further broken down into small objectives, which makes it easier to measure their progress. The role of a therapist is to help the person attain these goals, in order to change their thought process. In spite of its many benefits, people are hesitant to go for therapy because of a misplaced belief that it is too expensive. Therapy is a tool that’s designed to help you be happier and healthier. It can set you up for long-term success. When people choose not to attend therapy because of the cost, it could be because they don’t understand the value of therapy. Some of the things people commonly say are; I just can’t afford a therapist. Why should I pay someone so much money to listen to me? I’d rather stay miserable than pay someone so that I can talk to them.
Dr Poloko Ntshwarang, senior Social Work lecturer at the University of Botswana says “Therapy is vital because often times we just put a band-aid on things, so to speak, then they are not actually resolved and we don’t experience a long-term difference. We also don’t necessarily have any strong tools for the future that allow us to continue self-development and self-management. There are often feelings of shame or aversion to going to therapy. People think a myriad of things, does it mean I’m weak if I go? what will others think? can I really talk openly to a stranger? are my inner thoughts too dark or private for someone else to hear? can I even pay for this? These are all valid questions that all of us who approach therapy have thought. There are many hurdles to starting, but there are also many rewards. Therapy can help you unravel years of unhealthy thinking or frustrations; it can also help change your perspective on the hurdles in your life; it can give you strategies for shifting your mindset or even fostering better relationships with loved ones in your life.”
The truth is when it comes to our mental health we are often living in a false economy. We avoid spending money on a counsellor due to the perceived cost but end up spending this and more on other ways to cope instead. How many times have you said ‘a night out will really do me good’ because you felt a bit down or stressed out? You might have even booked a holiday to get away from it all. How many times will you resort to this over the course of your lifetime and at what cost for a short-term fix? Instead of sacrificing a few nights out or one holiday, one could gain skills from a professional that could last them a lifetime and save them money in the long run. Sometimes people become overwhelmed by feelings such as severe anxiety, depression, some succumb to increased alcohol intake, drugs or gambling to cope. A person may be scared to ask for help and think to just carry on. These are often things people do because they don’t have the correct skills to cope with their own thoughts or emotional responses to trauma or situation. Engaging in these behaviours may make one feel better for a moment but the problem they were avoiding likely hasn’t gone away. Considerable amounts of money may have been spent and maybe even got into debt and potentially damaged relationships at home or work. These are patterns that will continue until one asks for help with the problem. The cost of this financially and emotionally is much higher than a few sessions of therapy would cost you.