This is one of seven interviews with young professionals about their experiences with therapy and its costs.
In 2007, a breakup left John reeling. “I was seeing someone that I cared about a lot,” he says. “It didn’t actually last that long, but it meant a lot to me.” Looking for answers about the matters of the heart, John turned to one of his co-workers – a director in his 30s, who had been with his wife since he was 18. “He kind of figured out what I was really asking and pointed me towards his therapist, who works out of Saint Francis church,” John says. “Long story short, I started going over there once a week for an hour.” John spends summers working in theatre. During the year, he takes on small projects here and there, but mostly tutors for the SAT and ACT tests, and teaches chess. As a young artist with limited income, he says he “kind of hit the lottery” by finding someone who charges on a sliding scale. “I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise,” he says. He initially paid $10 per session, and more recently bumped that up to $20.
His therapist proved vital to him – and is now someone John knows he can always come to in troubled times. “I started because I was working through my feelings of abandonment and hopelessness, and then my father died two years later and that sort of became a whole other chaotic catastrophe. I was in a play once where somebody described therapy as paying someone to be your friend and I think that that’s true. I think it is to some extent paying someone to be your friend at its best. But it’s a friend that will never tell anyone anything and it’s a friend that gives better advice than your other 26- [or] 27-year-old friends do.”
In more recent years, however, John stopped feeling like he needed therapy – mainly because “life was going a lot better”. “I had a relationship that was fairly stable,” he says. “My career was starting to look better. I didn’t feel the need for it so much.” He now only goes back when he has had an especially bad week or some extra turmoil.
This article first appeared in The Guardian, 18 February 2015.