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Open Letter To A Hesitant Client

Open Letter to a Hesitant Client

The quickest way to shut down a conversation at a party is to disclose that I am a psychotherapist. This recently happened at a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago when one of the other guests inquired about my profession; when I responded that I was a therapist, her head pulled back, her eyes widened, and her exclamation of “oh!” ground the conversation to a screeching halt. Most people clam up and quickly change the subject when they hear about my job as if I have a special type of x-ray vision that can read their thoughts. Upon reflection, I have a few ideas about why people tend to respond so strongly. Unfortunately, there continues to be a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health issues. I believe that there are a lot of misconceptions about what therapy is and what psychotherapists do, and I hope to address a few of those misunderstandings below.

Why it’s hard to start

Therapy can feel scary and intimidating to those who have never done it before or who have not had a good experience with mental health professionals. It’s helpful to keep in mind that not every therapist is a good fit for every client. As impactful as a negative experience in therapy can be, I encourage you to not generalize your poor connection with a specific therapist to the entire field of psychotherapy. I believe that there is a great therapist out there for everyone! If you have never been to therapy before, you could be worried about a slew of things. Maybe you think that your therapist will judge you or laugh at you behind your back. Perhaps you think that your therapist will find out what’s “wrong” with you, tell you what to do or what not to do, or make you feel like you’re messing up this whole “life” thing that you’ve mostly got under control. Or maybe you feel like you’re strong enough to just white-knuckle your way through whatever crisis you’re currently experiencing as you’ve always done. Maybe seeking therapy feels like a sign of weakness. 

Everyone needs a little support

Everyone deserves support. I state the obvious when I say that there’s plenty going on in our world right now to be anxious, depressed, furious, and grief-stricken about. A World Health Organization report in March of 2022 cited a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression on a global scale in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic alone. Another study by the Institute of Education Sciences highlighted that 70% of public schools have reported an increase in demand for mental health services since the start of the pandemic. People everywhere are struggling. 

What therapy offers

The therapy that I practice (and that most therapists I know practice) is oriented to meet the primal and universal need to be patiently heard, compassionately seen, and deeply understood. The therapy that I offer (and receive) is rooted in cultivating connection– to the other person, to oneself, to the wider community. Authentic connection is something that I think everyone could benefit from, especially right now. 

Therapy can offer a weekly soft landing spot–a consistent place to pause, check-in, and stabilize. It can be an opportunity to be fully witnessed as you process trauma, change, and complicated emotions. Or therapy can also be a time dedicated to learning about yourself and your relationships with others. Therapy can be a place to sort through options and clarify goals. It can serve to validate your experience and allow you to understand it from a new, more zoomed-out perspective. Therapy has been all these things for me at different phases in my life. 


What to expect

Therapists don’t have the answers to solve your life’s problems. We’re certainly not in a position to tell you what to do or to criticize the choices you have made. We’re also fumbling through life, doing our best but making mistakes along the way, just like everyone else. From what I have observed, therapists are not drawn to the profession because they have miraculously figured out a way to be a perfect human (spoiler alert: that doesn’t exist!) but rather because of our familiarity with a wide range of emotions and life experiences (some of them quite messy). Moreover, we chose the field of psychotherapy because we value relationships and self-understanding and hope to create an environment that facilitates that for others.  Therapy has been a transformative, healing experience for me, and is one that I strive to create for my clients. 

Sophia Willis-Conger is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #133082. She has experience working with Adults, Couples and Teens on issues of identity, sexuality and attachment. She is trained in EMDR and specializes in depth psychology and somatic therapy. Sophia is reachable at


(2022). 2022 School Pulse Panel [Review of 2022 School Pulse Panel]. Institute of Education Sciences.

World Health Organization. (2022, March 2). COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.; WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION.

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