"Is therapy right for me? I don't even know what's wrong with me."
It is my experience that people often feel the need to know what is wrong first in order to seek the help they require. This makes sense, of course, in the world in which we live. We seek services once we have identified the problem. When our tooth hurts, we hope it's not a cavity and we pray it's not a root canal, and with our fingers crossed we make an appointment to go to the dentist. The same is true of any physical ailment we are able to identify in our body. Once we recognize it, we take the necessary steps to evaluate or treat it, regardless of what it may be. The same is true of our possessions, whether they be cars, appliances, electronics, you name it. Once we are able to pinpoint the problem, it is at that point that we begin to seek the solution.
But what if we can't pinpoint the problem?
When it comes to our bodies or even the material items listed above, a quick WebMD or Google search may help us identify the problem. For example: Why is my eyelid twitching? Or why is my air conditioner dripping? Or, why is my email not loading on my phone?
As wonderful as the internet is, unfortunately it cannot give us the answers to our emotional difficulties, especially when we may not know the source of the problem. As an experiment, I just asked Siri, "Why am I feeling this way?" She answered sincerely, "Good question. Anything else I can do for you?" Her intentions are good, I know it, and she does her best to reduce stress when she can (i.e. by searching for things when I don't have an extra hand), but in matters like these, she just doesn't cut it.
From the place of identifying what the problem is, we are often able to figure out the next steps of action. But when one is unable to figure out the problem, it can be very difficult to figure out how to best help oneself, which unfortunately can lead to feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and even shame.
So to speak more directly to the point, it may feel counterintuitive to some, once they have reached that difficult place, to seek therapy when they are not even sure of the problem. We generally seek help when we know what we need, and we live in a world that even when we don't know, the World Wide Web ensures that we find the answers. However, our emotional lives operate completely differently with layers of defenses and complexities, where answers are not as easy to come by, (especially not from Siri.) I write all this not to dissuade someone from seeking therapy, but rather the opposite. I write this as an encouragement to someone who is unsure or on the fence, that despite not being able to identify a specific reason for seeking therapy, or the underlying issues one wants to address, it is through the process of therapy that one can move closer to the understanding he or she seeks.
Therapy is unlike other aspects of our lives in that the act of obtaining answers is one that requires a different approach from what we are generally used to. To say it more simply, therapy is a process in which it's okay not to have the answers. Not having them may even be advantageous in allowing for open exploration, which in turn can lead to meaningful discoveries, relief, and the clarity one sought from the onset.