We can all sit here and say that there’s no shame in going to therapy. Frankly, that’s bull***t. There’s been a growing conversation in the last few years about removing the stigma from going to counseling, and this conversation is powerful and important. However, we’re still a long way from where we need to be. Here’s why:
Much of this conversation focuses on mental illness, and it encourages people to get the help that they need without fear or shame. While this conversation is EXTREMELY important (and we wholeheartedly agree with the fact that it’s time to remove the stigma around mental illness), we also feel that the conversation needs to continue past this point. Therapy is an important and necessary resource for individuals who are dealing with mental illness. It is also an important and necessary resource for many people who are not dealing with mental illness - and this is a group that we’re not often talking about.
Pardon my French, but life is f***ing hard. It's full of complications, stressors and demands - and we’re somehow expected to just be okay and roll with it. No matter how smart, strong or resilient you might be, chances are - life is still going to get the best of you at some point. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Sometimes, we’re able to muddle through until stress lets up a little bit. Sometimes, we’re able to reach out to someone in our support system for that perfect bit of advice that gets us back on track. Sometimes, we’re able to call on one of our coping skills and work through our stress through exercise, meditation, writing, etc. Sometimes, none of these options seem to help. And this is where this stigma thing becomes a real problem.
Many of us don’t see therapy as a viable solution for overwhelming stress. We think of therapy as something that people should only turn to when there are no other options. We see it as the step that a person (or couple, or family) takes when they’re all out of strength and things are on the brink of collapse. We see it as a whole “thing”, where you have to commit to weekly sessions from now until the end of time, rearrange your already crazy schedule, and mentally label yourself - “I’m now a therapy person”. Add that to the discomfort of wondering what other people might think if they knew that you were in therapy - and it’s enough to make you write therapy off completely.
So, here are some things about therapy that I firmly believe:
- Therapy is for everyone. Life is crazy, and we’re not pre-programmed with all the answers. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unclear on how to make things better.
- Engaging in therapy is not a sign of weakness. I’d argue that choosing to directly deal with your stressors is actually a sign of incredible strength.
- Therapy does not have to be a long-term commitment. This therapy cliche definitely discourages people from considering therapy as an option. Although long-term therapy is used in some cases (e.g. serious mental illness, extreme trauma, etc.), it is not necessary in many cases. And while therapy is often structured as one session per week, the frequency of sessions can often be modified based on need or preference. For example, I often have clients (individuals, couples and families) who choose to meet more frequently at the beginning of the process and less frequently as things begin to calm down and improve.
- You should know your goals. I believe that therapist and client should work together to develop clear and attainable goals for therapy. The only way to know when you’ve reached your goals is to know them in the first place.
- There’s a way to build therapy into your life - no matter how demanding or hectic your schedule might be. Sometimes, it can feel impossible to imagine fitting one more thing into your crazy schedule, even temporarily. However, it’s getting easier to find high-quality, confidential therapy to fit your schedule and needs, thanks to the growing practice of online counseling.
- Therapy is not one-size-fits-all. You wouldn’t see an ophthalmologist to discuss back pain, right? Therapists have varying specialties and expertise, just like doctors. It’s important to find a therapist whose approach and perspective meshes well with your needs, communication style, and worldview.
I hold these values pretty tightly, and I’m extremely fortunate to have a partner in practice who holds these same beliefs. We’ve built our entire therapy practice on the foundation of these values and I have to say - it’s pretty easy to go to work each day knowing that we’re holding true to what we believe while helping people improve their lives in a real and meaningful way. This is why our focus is to create tailored solutions to help our clients efficiently create change. By providing both online and in-person options, we can maintain a flexible and highly confidential environment. This helps us hold true to the values we find so important. In our therapy practice, it’s important to us to offer attentive, flexible, and customized services for our clients. We love what we do and if you think we might be a good fit for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hope you’re having a good day and check in if you need me!