Throughout the years, and because of my profession, I’ve often had the chance in a non-clinical setting to lend an ear to people from all walks of life who are struggling with something. It may be something as big as childhood molestation or as small as being easily frustrated by a spouse’s habits. Sometimes it’s anxiety or depression or anger. All things big and small share a common element. These things occupy valuable real estate in the person’s mind and draws uncomfortable emotions to the surface, while detracting from a life filled with joy and peace.
After listening intently I ultimately suggest therapy as an option to deal with said thing. “Oh no, I’m not crazy!”
It’s a much more common response than you might think and I’m saddened there is still a social stigma attached to mental health help. I ask why they think going to therapy means they’re crazy. Sometimes I get blown off. But, sometimes, I get a chance to dispel the myths surrounding therapy and mental health.
Here are my thoughts on who goes to see a therapist and why, from a therapists perspective.
Most people who go to therapy go to help themselves cope with intense and uncomfortable feelings they don’t like having. PERIOD.
Many people go to help themselves cope with normal, every day stress and some go to improve relationships. Often people go for moderate problems and it is not true that people who go are “really messed up”. Most people go for only a short time before they begin to feel better (8 to 12 sessions). There’s no rule that says one has to go for a long time or dig into their past. And for that matter, it can be exactly what the person wants it to be. A good therapist will work on what the client wants to work on by helping the person navigate the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that keep them “stuck”.
People who go to therapy know there is a difference between talking to a friend and talking to a therapist. A therapist can help them reach their goal. Most people do not need to go on medication to start feeling better, but some do decide to go on medication while in therapy. Neither being in therapy, nor taking medication, makes you crazy. In my opinion it makes one proactive, courageous, and demonstrates self-care.
Therapy is a tool in your coping tool box. Sometimes you need to pull out the right tool for the right task. If you’re unhappy or anxious or want to change something that is taking up space in your zen zone, consider therapy. There is no shame in taking steps to improve one’s mental health. It’s one of the best things a person can do for themselves. Know what you need and how to get it in a healthy way. There’s nothing better than that.
For information on getting effective therapy see my blog post entitled