Everyone could use a little therapy sometimes
"Only crazy or weak people or those with serious issues go to therapy."
Heard that one before? Yeah. Screw that. All that does is reinforce the stigma. EVERYONE is impacted by mental illness - it may not be you directly who is battling a diagnosable condition this year, but it's someone you know and love.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, many families go into counseling TOGETHER - why? Because we immediately understand that this diagnosis, while it physically belongs to one person, affects the whole family. It's the same for a loved one facing depression, anxiety, BPD, OCD and any other mental illnesses - that person is not the only one who could benefit from therapy.
What's that saying? If you want to make God laugh, make a plan? Whether you believe in god or religion at all, life throws curve balls at us. Not one of us is perfect, and whether we have something diagnosable or not, we could all use a sounding board to help us sort through our shit sometimes. We as a society are starting to "get" that FINALLY.
But as more and more of us are accessing therapy-related services and resources and apps, some people still are afraid of that stigma. If more people understood what therapy IS, they might recognize the benefits and seek it out sooner!
There is nothing better we can do than to set aside time to focus on ourselves with a sherpa there to help us sort through our own headspace.
BUT... when you go into therapy without an understanding of what is IS, you're more likely to just give up after a couple of sessions. (although it's 100% OK to fire your therapist AND FIND A NEW ONE if you try one out and it isn't a good fit for you!)
"Therapy isn’t curing somebody of something; it is a means of helping a person explore himself, his life, his consciousness." – Rollo May
Through talking openly and freely, therapists and counselors enable their clients to explore all aspects of their life and feelings. You can't always do that with family/friends - they're too close to the sitation and bring their own biases and opinions that influence what they will advise you on. Effective sessions help you reduce confusion (though sometimes confusion INCREASES first) and enable you to make better decisions, make positive changes in your own attitudes and make informed choices for your own behavior. That's the cool thing about therapy - it's YOU giving yourself advice once you sort through your thoughts as thoroughly as possible in a supportive, non-judgemental environment (no matter how difficult the emotions are)!
A final note before the is/isn't list... therapy leads to change, and change can be uncomfortable. THAT kind of discomfort is POSITIVE. If you are experiencing discomfort aside from that of change temporarily sucking, make sure your therapist is a good fit for you and is being ethical in their delivery of services.
"A good therapist shares control with everything present, sometimes moving deeply into the unfolding action, sometimes waiting quietly as the other does inner work, surfing gracefully the changing amplitudes of intimact." – Ron Kurtz
What therapy IS
ANYONE can benefit from therapy - no matter your age, race, socioeconomic status or level of functioning!
Therapy is the process that happens when you and your therapist/counselor set aside time in order to explore your own difficulties, including stressful or emotional feelings.
Therapy can include a range of techniques or interventions used to improve your physical, mental, emotional and interpersonal functioning.
Therapy helps you see things more clearly or from a different perspective to enable you to focus on feelings, experiences and/or behavior, to in turn enact positive change.
Therapy is relationship of trust.
Confidential (except when required by law to disclose information if they believe there is a risk to life)
Teamwork and partnership
Equal but with professional boundaries
A sounding board for every day situations (work, home, school, relationships)
Treatment for serious mental illness, sometimes in combination with medication
Effective in both short and long-term durations, depending on your needs!
What therapy IS NOT
Therapy is NOT the same as talking to a friend, family member or coworker about a problem you are facing. If you have a large support network, it's OK to lean on them and ask for advice and input! You should ALSO do your own self-reflection and internal work to come to decisions about your own life - therapy enables this better than just gabbing with a friend.
Therapy is NOT:
Getting someone to sort out your problems FOR you
Comparing experiences with your therapist
Emotional (or physical) involvement with your therapist
Enforcing a value system that isn't of your own making
Cookie cutter techniques and worksheets
Always long-term or forever