God fucking bless the “worried well” who seek psychotherapy. They can mostly keep their lives/jobs/families running, but want an increase in their mood or quality of life, and come to me for a tune-up. They talk about existential questions and childhood dreams and personal fulfillment, and worry that they’re “whining” or “taking up [my] valuable time.”
I like them for them, of course; I find their lives and worries interesting and valuable, and enjoy the work we do together. But also?
They make the more “serious” work I do possible. People with the greatest need for therapy are frequently the least able to pay for it. When one of my clients loses their job and benefits, they need therapy more, not less. And in private practice I can only afford to keep treating them for free if I have enough people on my caseload who are paying me full price. My ability to volunteer at a homeless shelter and talk to them about grief and trauma is strongly dictated by how many upper-middle-class people pay me $200 an hour to talk about optimal job performance.
And emotionally, it is an honest fucking joy sometimes to get out of a session with someone whose childhood abuse makes their entire life difficult, and spend an hour talking to one of my worried writer clients about anxiety management and creativity and nothing too deeply painful.
So if you’ve ever paid a therapist but felt self-indulgent or whiny or like your problems “weren’t serious enough”: please know you’re valuable and important. Not just for yourself (though you are), but because your presence in that therapy room makes a lot of other things possible.