Dear Dr. Larsen, 

My doctor has suggested I see a therapist. I have been thinking it over, and I am a little doubtful about it helping me. The idea of just talking to someone is a bit much. You are a therapist, so I would like to know what you think.


Dear Doubting,

The right therapy, at the right time, can change your life.

Let me explain with two thoughts. The first is to think of the brain as a changing and developing organ. Until fairly recently in the history of neuroscience, the brain was seen as a fixed organ, with different plug-ins or areas. Now, we know the brain has a capacity termed “neuroplasticity,” which refers to its response to the world and experiences. If you will, one is able to change one’s mind. Literally, it is possible to see the world and ourselves differently.

How does this happen? In simple terms, we think. We feel. We behave. When we focus and speak about our lives and thoughts with another neutral person who has our best interests at heart, the brain is able to respond with actual change.

Thinking is the source of change. For example, changing from thinking “I am an awful person” to the idea that “I have faults, but I am a good person” is a life-changing notion. Behavior is also able to be the source of change. One discovers how to do things differently.

Thus, a complex of ideas, behaviors and feelings is able to guide choices and new directions emotionally.

Shop around. Interview a few therapists and look for a “fit.” Then, open your mind to possibilities. Surprises await you!

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at


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