How to Change Your Poverty Mindset Around Finding a Therapist or Coach
Investing in Yourself is the Only Way to Get Ahead
The current status of mental and behavioral health in the United States is abysmal. We have had a huge increase in suicide, people are unhappy and now it seems that there is no longer any help. The truth is that there is plenty of help — it is, however, very difficult to find.
Our perception of the world greatly changes when we are anxious and depressed. Rather than seeing all the beautiful colors, we wake up and go to sleep in a blanket of gray fog. Everywhere we look, we see angry and aggressive people. We slowly begin to believe that everyone is out to get us and to take advantage of us. And then we begin to isolate ourselves believing somehow we are the only person to go through whatever the crap is we are dealing with.
As a psychologist, we are often frustrated that you wait as long as you do to seek help. We are available to assist you — often bending over backwards to accommodate your schedule or your fee requests. And even if we can’t help you, we often provide referrals after an initial phone call to help you find your way. No industry is more person centered than the outpatient therapy network and yet most people do not even attempt to email a therapist. So we sit waiting often reading the same articles as you do, wondering why, if there is such a crisis, are you not showing up?
It is the same issue in the dating world. Matchmakers are constantly searching for matches for their wonderful clients only to have the same level of frustration that finding willing participants in the process is a challenge. One would think that if you are looking for connection and love you would make time for a date with one of their clients but often the date never happens. Or we have a wonderful client who refuses to go on a date with any match (often citing every possible reason why it is not the right match) leaving matchmakers frustrated and perplexed as to why you even showed up in the first place.
What is really going on? People are venting on social media because it makes us feel better but only a small percentage of people are really that motivated to make the real changes the Universe is showing us are necessary. We all get it and probably have been there — the work is hard and definitely not easy. However, the biggest excuse psychologists hear as the reason why people will not invest in psychotherapy — it’s too expensive.
It really is never about the money. The real answer is that it is all about fear. The rest is simply a poverty mindset.
What is a Poverty Mindset?
A poverty mindset is the belief that life is full of scarcity. We often discuss it as it pertains to our finances but it really applies to any area of our life where we believe that there is lack versus abundance. The overall refusal to invest in yourself because you do not want to spend money is a form of this mindset. Sometimes it is based on reality but, most often, it is based on a mindset you likely inherited from your family and the culture you grew up with. The truth is, if you really want something, the Universe really does conspire to deliver.
I’m not always a huge fan of Daymond John but I do like his book The Power of Broke. He makes the case that the best startups thrive when they have to hustle to bring their vision to life. The ones that have too much money are the ones that struggle and he shares, personally, that his biggest mistakes where made when he had the most money. If you imagine yourself as a startup trying to bring the vision of your life to the world, does balking over an hourly fee that someone is willing to negotiate with you make sense?
No, it does not. When it comes to seeking therapy or coaching, this mindset is the number one reason why some people succeed and others continue to float along stuck in their mental health difficulties. You can’t get better if you 1) don’t ask for help and 2) assume help is unavailable.
“Poor people put a low value on themselves and their efforts.” — Daymond John
Successful People Figure Out How to Make it Work
Over the years, I’ve personally worked with therapists and professional coaches. I’ve also worked with energy healers, psychics, meditation and yoga teachers. I have always learned something new from each person I’ve worked with. If finances were an issue, most professionals were willing to negotiate a fee so that I could at least attend one to two times per month. When I couldn’t afford ongoing therapy with the professional of my choice, I started seeing my energy healer on a monthly commitment and increasing my yoga and meditation practice. I figured out how to make it work in situations that presented a challenge. This is where the most growth happens and it signals how committed you are to your overall health and wellbeing.
Yet, I do remember what is was like to call therapist after therapist and be frustrated that I felt like I couldn’t afford to see someone (and I’m in the industry). It is easy to get caught in the hamster wheel of negativity but it is always when you are ready to give up that you get on the phone with someone who can be part of the team that helps change your life. And trust me, we love being part of a team for someone who is committed to figuring out how to get over this challenge. It is why we went into the profession in the first place.
The Fear of Asking for Help
I do remember a long time ago, before I learned how to navigate the system and before I understand what my mind and body needed, how overwhelming it was to ask for help. I was trained to be a polite little girl and not to ask for what I needed. It is an old but widely prevalent mindset that is rooted in a poverty mindset. And to be clear, you can have money in the bank but still have this mindset — I actually think that this is a very common occurrence in the millennial generation. This mindset combined with high levels of anxiety simply exacerbates fear.
We are in a mental health crisis because we are scared to ask for real help. We seem more content to vent than to dig deeper.
We are in a mental health crisis because the illusion of finances is keeping us from navigating the challenge of figuring out how to make it work for our everyday life.
You see, today, I sit in the city with the highest rate of psychologists and therapists per capita of any city in the world. And no, it is not New York. It’s Buenos Aires, Argentina. Somehow everyone finds their way into therapy. And while some would say that it is because it is affordable, many do not realize the economic stress and hardships that citizens of this beautiful city have been through for decades. I’m sure they would rather use their therapy budget to eat more delicious steak and drink more vino but many choose to go to therapy multiple days per week for the extra emotional support needed to make it through the ongoing economic instability. In other words, Argentina has real world issues but somehow they figure out how to stay in therapy. Not short term therapy, but long term psychoanalysis. They are committed in many ways we are not in the United States to facing their personal and long standing cultural traumas.
Do I think that the style of therapy in Buenos Aires is always beneficial? No. Psychotherapy is a highly individualized and personal process and Freudian psychoanalysis is not for everyone and it certainly is not available in more rural parts of the country. But I do think the commitment to seeing a therapist every week speaks to a different kind of mindset about the value of relationships.
If we, in the United States, do not value relationships (even a relationship with a coach or therapist) how do we really expect to be successful? We rely too much on independence and shame ourselves when we need to ask for help.
Buenos Aires is the home to tango and lots of emotional expression (for better and for worse). It is a culture that values family and prides itself on humility. It maintains its European heritage of trying to enjoy life despite the economy completely falling apart (and falling apart in ways we have not seen in my lifetime in the United States). They have REAL social issues that will not be fixed in a few days and somehow still make it into therapy. Things are far from perfect but the mindset of committing to a long term therapeutic relationship is something we need a reminder of in the United States.
What is it That We Really Value?
In the United States we need to begin questioning what it is that we are doing. The strength of our next generation is in its emotional intelligence and emotional vulnerability. Yet, without the mental health or spiritual support, these strengths will quickly spiral into a much larger mental health crisis. What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg and it will only increase if we do not become more collaborative and supportive of helping our people get the help they need. This is not the responsibility of our healthcare system — it is the responsibility of our communities. We need to become more focused on building strength and resilience and less focused on telling people there is something wrong with them. As a professional, while I believe in mental health treatment and have benefitted from it myself, all I see is a ton of lonely people who would be doing much better if someone just reached out to call and ask if they were okay.
Argentina may not be the country we look to for lessons in economic or political stability but they know a things or two about emotional survival. They ask for help from professionals so as to not burden their social networks. They ask for help from their friends. They make sure to get together for social gatherings. There is great beauty in living this way of life and while this certainly is not for everyone, it may be time we find more balance in the United States. The price of economic success is taking its toll and it may not be worth it for the future of our country. Depression and anxiety not only rob us of our joy but of future economic opportunities as well.
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
Resources for Finding a Therapist
Reach out and ask for help. The act of doing so may be in itself incredibly healing. Many therapists can be contacted via text message or email these days — eliminating the stress of needing to make a phone call.
If they can’t help you, ask for a referral and keep going until you find what you need. Don’t give up! Your future depends on your ability to be vulnerable to ask for help.
1. Psychology Today — The most common resource for finding a therapist. You can search by zip code. I recommend going to the therapist’s website and contacting them through their email or phone.
2. Thumbtack — I have actually worked with clients that have found me via this resource. While not a comprehensive list, it may be worthwhile to put a request out and see who is available.
3. Talkspace — Sometimes you just need to get started to get over the hurdle of reaching out. Services like Talkspace make it super simple and affordable to get started. I also wrote a blog post about dating someone with anxiety a couple of years ago if you are interested.
4. Local university psychiatry or psychology mental health clinic — This is still my favorite way of finding therapists. Training clinics are incredibly people friendly and students sometimes make the best therapists due to their conscientiousness and motivation levels. Psychology training clinics spend a lot of time supervising their students and the fees are usually a sliding scale.
5. Google psychologists in your zip code or in a nearby city. Tele-psychology is available if you do not have people in your local area. Find someone who speaks to you and ask if they can help you.
6. Ask your friends for a referral — especially if you live in a city. Most people know someone seeing a therapist or a coach. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation.
7. Ask your primary care doctor for a referral — they may have a colleague who is a good starting point for your research.
8. Instagram — yes, many psychologists and therapists have an Instagram presence. You can follow them first and reach out to them when you are ready to take the next steps in your personal journey.
Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes is a licensed psychologist, relationship expert and the forthcoming author of Toxic Insecurity: Our Search for Authentic Love. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @jenniferbrhodes.