If you’ve decided that you’re ready to pursue therapy, congratulations! You’ve taken an important first step in reclaiming your life from the struggles you’re facing.
But maybe you’re like many people, stuck between realizing that you could benefit from therapy and actually starting the work. It feels overwhelming to deal with the details and fit something new into your life, especially when you’re already having a hard time.
Unfortunately, many people who could benefit from therapy find it extra difficult to navigate these details. One study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, showed that people who are depressed believe that there are more barriers to therapy than people who aren’t depressed. And one of the big problems people struggle with is time. How do you fit yet another obligation into your week?
Inertia can keep you frozen in place, but once you get started it can work for you, keeping you moving forward. Although it can be tricky to find the time for therapy, it is possible to make room to give yourself the care you deserve, and the rewards are worth it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Take advantage of online therapy.
The first and most simple answer is to try using online therapy. The pandemic has greatly expanded this practice, and many patients have found it very convenient and helpful. Although an online session lasts the same amount of time as an in-person meeting, it eliminates the travel time before and after the appointment. This can drastically shorten how much time you have to set aside for a session.
Being able to access therapy from your phone or laptop, no matter where you are, makes it much easier to fit it into your day. For example, some busy parents like to schedule a session to take place in their car as they wait during their child’s sports practice.
If getting up and out of the house feels like an overwhelming task, online therapy is also a simple way to bring help to you. And it’s important to know that you aren’t sacrificing effectiveness for convenience. Research shows that online therapy is just as productive as in-person work.
2. Look into evening hours offered by therapists.
Another option to make therapy more accessible is to explore the possibility of taking advantage of the evening hours offered by many therapists’ offices. Therapists understand that appointments don’t always fit easily into a nine to five workday, and they do what they can to accommodate busy schedules.
For example, at Trillium Counselling, we are open for appointments until 8:00 PM from Monday through Thursday. Some patients like to schedule their late-day appointments as a part of an evening of self-care, with a treat, such as a special meal or a long bath, after their session.
3. Talk to your boss about a flexible work schedule.
If work is the primary barrier to appointments, discuss adjusting your work hours with your supervisor. Could you come in an hour earlier and take that hour after lunch or at the end of your work day? Would it be possible to shorten your lunch hour on multiple days to make up for an extra long lunch one day?
You don’t have to reveal to your supervisor the reason for your time request if you aren’t comfortable with sharing that information. Simply explain that you need to schedule a regular appointment, and discuss the logistics of making that happen. Their concern is focused on getting the work done, not your personal life.
4. Block out the time in your schedule as “out of office.”
You don’t have to work in an office, or have a paying job at all, to use this tip. Life’s obligations have a way of creeping into any unscheduled time. Many people find it effective to simply reserve the time they need for therapy in their calendars. This sends a message to the people in your life that you’re claiming that time for something that matters to you, and that they’ll need to work around this obligation.
Family, friends, and co-workers will usually accommodate you when you insist, but if you wait for them to decide to make room for your needs, you’re less likely to get what you’re hoping for. It’s not easy to set these expectations at first, but once they’re in place, maintaining them takes much less effort.
By the way, if you feel guilty about having reasonable expectations of getting the support you deserve, that’s a great topic to bring up with your therapist.
5. Know that it gets easier
On a practical level, once an appointment is a part of your schedule, it becomes a part of your routine. It’s much easier to maintain a standing appointment than it is to start it. Once you fit something into your weekly schedule, you don’t have to figure out how to make it happen every week.
But on a deeper level, life just works better when you take care of your mental health. Simple tasks don’t feel as heavy, and you’re better able to think through the challenges you’re facing. Therapy isn’t about eliminating the struggles in your life, but helping you learn the skills to navigate them safely and find joy.
Finding the time for therapy may be difficult at first, but it’s worth the effort. This journey isn’t another monumental task you have to complete in order to be successful; it’s a gift you give yourself. You may be surprised at all the ways it improves your life.
If you’re preoccupied with questions about how you could fit therapy into your life, it might be your time to step up for yourself and find the time you’re craving. At Trillium Counselling, our compassionate and experienced therapists are here to help you find the happier, healthier life you deserve. Please contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.