There is a stigma surrounding mental health counseling and psychiatry. We all know this is true. We have either been exposed to other individual’s views on counseling or come face to face with our own beliefs when we consider entering treatment.
There is something wrong with me.
No one healthy goes to a therapist.
Therapy is for people who are really messed up.
In reality, the stigma gives us all a reason to continue to ignore what we have already experienced to be true in our lives and relationships. Something is wrong. Is it me? I don’t know. Is it my relationships? Maybe. Do I want to know? What if it is me? If we do not admit something isn’t working, then we don’t have to know if it is us or the other people around us. We also don’t have to change anything. But what is the denial costing you?
The two most common questions I ask in sessions with clients are: what are you doing for self-care and what do you feel? The most common answers I have received so far are what is self-care and lonely. Other answers have included I am not doing anything for self-care and I feel empty, dismissed, abandoned, misunderstood, judged, and utterly alone.
We think therapy is about fixing what is wrong with us or with our relationships. Therapy is actually about connection. Human beings are relational, meaning none of us can do life alone, nor were we made to do life alone. We need connection with other people in meaningful relationships in order to heal and be whole. We disconnect from ourselves and others when we are wounded by relationships or experiences. Therapy is a place to connect with an individual who can care unconditionally for you and will help you reconnect with yourself unconditionally. Therapy is a place to begin to tell the truth about what has happened to you and what you have done, in order to reintegrate the neglected and abandoned parts of yourself. Therapy is a place to connect with your story and emotions without judgement.
In my experience, the individuals who have entered into therapy have been the most courageous, honest, humble, brave, strong, determined, and tenacious people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life. Often, they do not feel nor are they aware of these traits when they begin treatment, but they find out along the way that this is who they have been their whole lives. Yes, there are things out of place in their lives and inside of them but it is through their decision to connect with me and with themselves that healing comes.
So, why consider therapy? Connection. I don’t know you or your story. You may be really messed up or you may just be wondering what in the world has happened to get you where you are in life. While those are reasons to enter therapy, I don’t think they are THE reason. The stigma is still out there, but I hope, if you are considering therapy, you are aware of your own courage and your choice to care for yourself. Therapy is a choice to connect with yourself and it is often one of the best self-care choices you can make.