Why, in 2018, there's still a stigma riding the coattails of therapy is beyond me.
I know (and love) that going to counseling is becoming more common and that fewer people are feeling judged for receiving necessary mental health care, but we’re still not there yet. And by there, I mean a place where we can ALL look at therapy the same way we would an annual physical check-up. It’s not that we should start making once-a-year trek to the therapist’s office (though it probably wouldn’t hurt), but we need to make use of mental health professionals the same way we do general physicians—because they can sometimes see things we can’t, and then help fix those things.
Whether you struggle with daily anxiety or depression, or you’re dealing with a major life trauma like death or divorce, or you simply feel “off” occasionally—and who doesn’t—I’m a big believer that we can ALL benefit from the incredible wonder that is therapy.
We ALL need someone to hold our pain.
This is a phrase I had never heard before I went to therapy myself.
Similar to the idea of mourning with those that mourn, holding someone’s pain isn’t about doinganything. It’s not about solving problems or providing concrete service. It’s the simpler power of letting someone know that their feelings (agreed with or not) are 100% valid. I believe that an outside third party, such as a therapist, is often the perfect person to do this—someone with no personal ties to the struggle at hand to say that they see, validate, and value your pain. It is incredibly freeing to have a professional lighten your mental and emotional load like that, even if just for a few minutes.
We ALL need an outside objective party to recognize and point out patterns in our lives, and help us improve upon them.
Feedback from close family and friends can be awesome. It’s personalized and hopefully given by trusted members of your closest circles. But sometimes it’s really hard to get that feedback straight from the people our bad behaviors are affecting on the daily—especially since we often don’t recognize our own bad behaviors and/or coping mechanisms. We need objectivity to balance our own defensive emotions, and we need guidance from professionals who’ve not only studied these things out, but likely spent years successfully guiding countless others through similar situations.
BONUS: See what David Mead has to say about this, and more, here.
We ALL need someone to be accountable to.
It’s funny how accountability to others frequently plays an integral role in self-improvement. I don’t have the social science of that figured out yet, but I do know that having a professional “monitor” your uncensored efforts in personal progress will not only push you to reach your goals of healing and development, but be more motivated and excited about the process. And trust me, it’s much easier to give the naked truth to a professional stranger than a close buddy, however intense your stranger danger is.
Counseling definitely isn’t a one-and-done kind of effort, and finding a therapist you click with will take time and energy. In all honesty, the process is regularly intense and draining. But it’s also inspiring, empowering, and so worth the personal growth and healing found on the journey.
I can only hope more and more people choose to experience that.