A couple of weeks ago, I had a client come in stating they were uncertain if they needed to participate in therapy because they were not in crisis. She explained that when she went to therapy in previous years, she was working through severe previous traumas and crisis situations. She dismissed her struggles with current life transitions and symptoms of depression because there was no immediate crisis in her life. She viewed her problems as being trivial and invalidated them as not being “bad enough” to warrant spending the time to process them in therapy. After further discussion, we identified her pattern of negative self-talk, unhelpful thinking patterns and identified strategies to strengthen mindful awareness regarding the relationship she has developed with these thoughts. She acknowledged her difficulty with life transitions were valid and opened up with more self-compassion. She stated at the end of the session, “Well, I guess I need to continue with more therapy, huh?” We both laughed as she scheduled another appointment.
Many people continue to hold false beliefs or perceptions about therapy and who “needs” to go to therapy. It is often said in jest with negative connotation toward someone that denotes some sort of pathology, sickness or disorder. We need to change our perspectives about mental health treatment. It does not have to be about ILLness but about our WELLness. When someone shares that they have gone to a yoga class or the gym, we think awesome job! Good for you, you are doing something to promote your health! Why would we not talk as openly and be as accepting about our mental health? Life is hard. Being a human in this messy world is hard. Therapy is a great avenue to talk to a neutral party, someone who is not an immediate stakeholder in your life or emotionally invested like friends or family. You don’t need to wait until things are “bad” or in “crisis” for therapy to be beneficial. Going to therapy does not mean you are “crazy.” Going to a therapist when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious should be as normal as going to see your doctor when you’re sick. We all have things in our life that could use some self-reflection, processing, and non-judgmental awareness. Let’s normalize going to therapy and taking care of our mental health.