Considering therapy? Why wait?
Deciding whether or not you need to attend therapy is a BIG deal. Regardless of how far society has come in acknowledging that mental health is important; there is still a stigma around going to therapy. There is often a fear that people will think something is wrong with you, if you go to therapy. There may be a lot of shame and attempts to try and hide your suffering to avoid the stigma of admitting that there is something wrong, or that you need to talk to someone. Then there is also the idea of disclosing your personal business to a stranger, and potentially being judged. And then if you are someone like me, you might just find it weird to sit down and talk about yourself….
Let me tell you a little bit about my story. When I was a graduate student in my doctorate program, one of the school’s requirements was that all students must have 45 hours of counseling before they can graduate. So I signed myself right on up, and after scouring the internet for hours, I finally settled on a counselor that I thought I would like. So, I made the appointment, and went in her office and sat on the couch. And when I sat down I was flooded with anxiety! I didn’t know what to say, nor did I want to talk about myself. I am after all a sane functioning individual who pays taxes! So my therapist, literally had to pull information out of me for that hour. After I left the session, I contemplated not going back, but I had to in order to graduate. So I kept going back for 2 years. Most of that time, my therapist had to pull my teeth in order to get any conversation of substance. During one of our last sessions, she commented on how I finally began to open up after such a long time. So you see, therapy can even be scary for a therapist.
While my reasons for seeking therapy were non-traditional; I do think that it helped me realize the anxiety that people go through when considering and attending counseling. Here are some of the ways that I learned to process and value the experience of therapy and avoid the stigma around getting the treatment I needed.
Work out your mental health. People exercise and eat right to make sure they are in the best physical shape. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your mind? If you are looking to achieve wellness, your mental health is just as important (if not more) as your physical health. You would go to a doctor if you were feeling sick; then you should seek counseling if you need life balance.
Everyone has problems. Why not get an objective opinion about yours? Someone who is trained on how to navigate and think about life’s problems can certainly be of help in anyone’s time of need. Admitting that you need to talk to someone about stressors doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
Your therapy is nobody’s business but yours. What you do in your personal life, is not to be on display for others to judge. You should feel confident about your ability to make decisions about what is best for you to get your needs addressed.
If someone needs help, wouldn’t you want them to get it before things get out of hand? There are countless stories on the media, about people who have had crises because they did not get mental health or substance abuse treatment.
Do your research. Find someone who specializes in what you want treated. Also, take a gander at their website and professional organizes. Make sure that person would be a right fit for you. If you find that you don’t like your therapist, then find another.
© 2015 Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC