Perhaps you are wondering which of the thousands of psychologists, counselors or therapists you should choose. Before you try to make a decision, ask yourself a more fundamental question: why do you need a psychologist at all? Psychology is not secret knowledge. If you want to learn about psychology from CBT to DBT, from Freud to Jung, then the information is out there. In the internet age, you don’t need even need to go to a library. If it’s someone to talk to you are after, then why do you need a professional?

Truth be told, most people who decide to seek a psychologist, don’t know why. They do it because it has become a social norm. You feel unhappy? See a shrink. Don’t know which one? Well, this one has a nice website…

Why therapy?

In truth, a therapist provides something valuable, even indispensable. However, it’s not what you might think.

All of us have been through experiences that caused us pain. This is unavoidable. One thing determines whether these painful experiences make or break us: understanding. When we can understand our experiences, we can not only move on, we can learn from them and use them to grow. When we don’t understand, we cannot cope.

An analogy with physical pain is useful. If you know that your finger hurts because it was burned, you do not find the pain disturbing. You know what to do to ease the pain and you even learn from it: be more careful around fire. However, if you have mystery pains, then you are unsettled, powerless. The only thing you can do is hope the pain goes way.

Unexplained physical pain sometimes does just go away, but emotional pain doesn’t: it burrows underneath. Even if we realize that our buried pain is damaging us, we are unable to do anything about it because there is no way of dealing with pain that we do not understand.

Which therapist?

The role of the therapist is to facilitate the process of understanding your emotional pain. First, I can give you tools and techniques to moderate the pain when you first confront it. Secondly, I give you the opportunity to explore your experiences with a non-judgemental person. Of all the qualities required in a therapist, being non-judgemental is the most crucial, and the hardest to acquire. You will gradually learn to feel safe, and be able to explore your past without being crippled by humiliation or shame. Finally, I will give you the conceptual vocabulary to think about your feelings.
Once you learn to understand the truth about yourself, you will be surprised by how quickly you can heal and become a better person.

Dr. Robert Marselle earned his doctorate degree in psychology (Psy.D.) from Ryokan College in Los Angeles and his Masters in Counseling Psychology from La Jolla University. He is a licensed clinical  psychologist and a Registered Nurse (RN) in the state of California and is a certified TeleMental Health Provider by the TeleMental Health Institute, TMHI.