Because We All Need Therapy
Fifty minutes of lying on a plush sofa with fluffy pillows as a complete stranger sits across from you and writes in his or her notebook about all the dreadful details of your life story that you would rather forget. Then poof! Just like that, a miracle occurs and you skip out of the office all happy and cured and stuff.
Now that might work in the movies when there is only an hour to figure it all out but in the real world, not so much. Therapy is hard work. It takes time and ton of courage and bravery to dive into that deep dark abyss of ourselves.
But why on earth would anyone want therapy in the first place? Seriously. Who would want to just volunteer to spill their most private thoughts and painful emotions or shell out their hard earned cash for such frivolity? Not as long as there are family members, best friends, or even strangers on the bus commute to work wiling to listen to our problems. If we really get desperate we can even post on Facebook or Twitter where we can be sure to get some kind of feedback even if it's just a like. Do likes even count? I guess on some level they can show us that at least one person cared enough to read about our plight and respond. But I digress. While these methods might work once or twice, it is highly doubtful they will work long enough to do any good. Why? Because we are complicated creatures and can sometimes get on our own nerves let alone everyone else's. Besides, nobody really wants to hear about all of our drama anyway. We all have our fair share of baggage to carry and don't have the time or energy to carry someone else's. And because we all have baggage, we all need therapy. Every one of us.
So Why therapy? All of us? Everybody? Really?
Yes, therapy, and yes all of us. Because we are human beings. And since we have the privilege of being at the top of the food chain, we get front row seats to the human experience, where life shows in its entire splendor. Sometimes that looks absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. Other times it looks dark, and dreary and we are faced with situations that are hard, painful, unfair, confusing and just straight out jacked up. It is at these moments that we may become lost, hurt, angry, afraid or even stuck and we just need a bit of guidance to get us back on track. No judgment, lectures, or side-eyes; just a comfortable safe space to walk in our truth even if it looks like crazy or we aren't quite sure what we think or believe. We need a place to go where we can swap out the mask and the protective armor for sweats and a t-shirt, and just be. Because a lot of the time we pretend we know what to do when really don't and we need to hear that it's okay when we can't figure it all out. Let's look at it another way. If you had a really bad case of the flu, a broken bone, or severe pain that would not go away you would get to your doctor just as fast as you possibly could for some relief. Well, situations involving our mental health need relief too and it is just as important to give them the same attention as our physical health. In fact studies show that our mental health can affect our physical health. Just like doctors for every type of physical illness, there are plenty of available resources out there to attend to our mental health as well.
But only crazy people go to therapy.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be stricken with some super scary psychological diagnosis worthy of a Lifetime movie to be in need of therapy. While that could possibly be true on occasion, and there are people that have legitimate mental illnesses requiring therapeutic care, many of those that seek therapy are just everyday people with jobs and families trying to keep it all together (see this article). Things may even be going perfectly well in your life but you are feeling a bit unfulfilled in some areas. Therapy is a great way to explore for a deeper sense of self-awareness, purpose and direction. In some cases therapy is helpful for learning some useful tools to help navigate through this chaotic world we have to live in. Through the therapeutic process we can explore our narratives and beliefs, get clarity about who we are, whom we want to be, and what may be holding us back from living our best lives. This can further allow us to define how we choose to move through the world and interact with others. Going to therapy is actually one of the sanest things we can do for ourselves because we recognize that something is going on that we cannot handle by ourselves.
But I haven’t had a colossal, catastrophic life-altering event happen to me.
Therapy is definitely a wise option for managing emotional events such as grief around the death of a loved one or traumatic events such as physical or sexual assault, domestic abuse experiences accidents or natural disasters. While therapy definitely is important in helping with these situations, it is not the only reason to seek therapy. Job stress, marital conflicts, family communication issues, and even issues specific to teens and young adults like bullying and transitioning into independence are just a few reasons to engage in therapy. There are some people that only visit a therapist once or twice a year for a "mental tune-up" as a way to check in with themselves to make sure they are moving in their desired direction. If you think about it, therapy can actually have a preventative effect because if problems are addressed early they may not grow into bigger problems later on down the road.
Counseling is way too expensive.
Therapy is only for those with unlimited financial resources. This is a belief that can be quite overwhelming for those who may have restricted incomes and be a deterrent to seeking mental health services. Do not let a tight budget hinder you from getting the care you need. There are tons of resources available that can make therapy accessible and affordable. Community agencies offer free or very low cost services and many therapists will offer sliding scale fees based on your income and need (Just make sure you ask when you make initial contact). You can also take advantage of employer health insurance plans, as well as employee assistance programs (EAP). Government based plans like Medi-Cal are also good options for those who qualify. Alternatively, trained, pre-licensed interns who are gaining clinical hours under supervision for licensure can also provide quality therapy services at a manageable cost (Go here to learn more)
A Solid Investment in Yourself
The morning latte and muffin before work, weekly mani-pedi and hair appointments, eating at our favorite restaurants, and purchasing the latest clothes and shoes are just a few ways we invest in our pleasure, comfort, and well-being. Well, why not consider therapy as an investment as well? We work hard to perfect our physical best and present it to the world but what good is all that if we are struggling on the inside? Therapy is an excellent investment in sound mental health that will provide a lifetime of returns in the form of peace of mind, increased self-awareness, improved relationships, and overall contentment.
You can get through it
Life is amazing, beautiful, and unpredictable. It is also complex and because we don't get an instruction manual we pretty much have to figure it out the best we can, which isn't easy. The good news is we don’t have to do it alone. There are professionals available who are trained in helping us get to our highest and best selves while holding us up in a safe, welcoming place without judgment or worry that our most embarrassing, vulnerable, or private moments will be exposed or devalued. Therapy can be a very powerful process to growth and change where we can explore, unravel and identify parts of our lives that don't fit. It can even help us heal emotional wounds that might be keeping us stuck on our journey to wholeness and peace.
Because mental health is everything,