Why Therapy Really IS for Everyone
I know that this probably shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it still does; when a person comes to me with a laundry list of boundaries they want to set, confusing relationship patterns, traumatic events, maybe a grief episode, and irrational fears that are holding them back in their life and they say “I’m a little nervous because I’ve never done this before.” What’s this? This is going to therapy.
What stops us? If you had a fractured bone would you avoid going to the doctor for years? Would you make up excuses like “it’s too expensive,” or “it will get better on its own.” I think for a lot of people the answer is STIGMA, pure and simple. We think that therapy/counseling/self-help anything is for people with serious mental illnesses or the even ickier stereotype, for the “weak minded.” But I can tell you from personal experience, that the people who show up and have the courage to say what’s on their mind, or lay out what is no longer working for them in their life, those are the strongest among us.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be scary. Whether you are court ordered to treatment, found a counselor listing on Psychology Today that spoke to you, or your wife gently passes you a therapists contact info, forming a Therapeutic relationship takes time, work and courage. Change is hard, and we are often working toward making changes that we have resisted for years, especially if we are simultaneously working through our fears of even showing up and sitting on that couch.
If you are one of those people who browse the listing but can’t seem to pick up the phone, or convince yourself not to leave a message, or if you bristle at even the suggestion that you might want to talk to someone, here are some reasons you may want to take that next step and book an appointment:
· You’re human. Gasp! Guess what? We ALL have stuff to work on. Anyone who says that they don’t is straight up lying to themselves. Name one person who has escaped suffering during the course of their lifetime. I’ll wait…
· Blindspots. Again, we all have them. These are what I would call simple gaps in our learning. You’ve seen those memes around tax season making jokes about how we learned little useful information for adult life in high school, same thing with our emotional health. Sometimes we just don’t have the vocabulary or the most basic information about things like feelings, relationships, distorted thinking, mindfulness, self-care or balance.
· An objective, third party perspective. One of my absolute favorite things a client can say to me is “I’ve never thought about it that way before.” This is fantastic because we all have lenses that we put on unconsciously, or ways of looking at things that might not be super helpful. Sometimes all we need is a simple shift in our thinking to get us unstuck, or to help us be kinder to ourselves and others.
· Space to heal. At some point in time we all develop emotional soft spots, (think: touchy subjects). A therapist is someone you get to explore that with in a space that is separate from the rest of your life. We often need to air out old emotional wounds so that they don’t fester inside us and keep up from achieving happiness, joy, and feelings of security going forward.
So, those are just some of my thoughts about why and how counseling could be helpful for everyone. Check back soon for my thoughts on how to pick the right counselor for you!