There is a lot that holds us back from trying out psychotherapy. There is the idea that you have to be a little mad or harbor some huge and strange problem to go and see a therapist. It can be hard to see that therapy isn’t in fact for the select, disturbed few, it’s for everyone. Because, actually it’s entirely ordinary to be rather confused, a bit anxious, and sometimes challenged by relationships, family life, and the direction of your career. So really, the only qualification for going to therapy is to be a normal human being. There is also the worry about the strangeness of it all. It will be you and someone you’ve never met, to whom your expected to divulge nothing less than your inner life. Why not talk to a friend? Well, firstly, because friends aren’t properly trained to listen. As one would have noticed, they interrupt, a lot. And secondly, because it’s sometimes easier to tell someone who has no prior knowledge or expectations of you the big and important things about who you are. Furthermore, Therapist are the last people ever to judge. Their concept of a normal human being is far more expansive than that held by society at large. They know how unsual and surprising we are, especially around sex and anxiety. Their whole training takes them into the recesses of their own and others minds. They know how surprising we can all be. It doesn’t frighten them – it intrigues and motivates them. That’s why they became therapists in the first place. They are in the end, interested in mental health, that means, in helping out. Then there’s the cost. Isn’t it all a fortune? It might be the price of going out for dinner with friends, which is both a lot, and not so much. It really just depends on the value you place on it. This is the crux of it: Therapy is valuable, because so many of our problems come down to not having enough insight into how our minds work: What we want? What we fear? Why we act the way we do? and are overwhelmed by certain feelings? The goal of therapy is self-knowledge. By talking a lot to someone who listens very carefully, over many weeks you come to deeper insights into the mind you inhabit. Patterns start to emerge, a particular way of approaching relationships, or dealing with defeat, a recurrent, not very helpful, approach to jealousy, an ongoing thing with your sister or father – This is the stuff of therapy. Knowing how to live isn’t an instinct, we are not born with it. It’s a skill. And one of the places you learn it is in the outworldly, slightly unusual but in fact, deeply normal and productive setting of a therapist’s office. It isn’t a sign of disturbance to go to therapy it’s the first sign of sanity and of a proper, grown-up commitment to mental health.