Let’s face it, there’s still a stigma attached to seeing a therapist. If you haven’t felt this, you are one of the enlightened. Physical illness is different of course. Pretty well everyone needs to see their family doctor at some point, even if it’s just for routine vaccinations and check ups. Therapy is different. Therapy is for them, not us.
What we’re really talking about here is the professional therapist, what they get up to and the type of person who uses their services. Plenty of things in life are ‘therapeutic’ and we don’t discriminate between the person who uses music to calm their shattered nerves over someone who meditates or goes for a jog. So the question is, what tips the balance between these self-help therapeutic techniques and seeking out assistance from a therapist?
The answer is not very much in many cases. The caseload of a typical therapist is far from mysterious. It will be made up of the everyday concerns and problems we all encounter. So the reasons people turn to a professional therapist are highly varied but a common element is the burdensome nature of their issue.
People also turn to therapy for a variety of other reasons. They may not wish to share their concerns with other people. They may not want to impose their troubles on friends or relatives. They may want a person who really knows how to listen and someone who won’t pre-judge them and knows how to keep a confidence. They may be looking for reassurance, for answers to troubling questions, or for ways to solve problems from a person who is both sympathetic and knowledgeable.
In summary then, every single one of us applies or uses some form of therapy every day of our lives. Many people will have received therapy without even realizing it. Here’s an example. You’ve lost your job and you’re troubled. You’re anxious, can’t sleep properly, and you’re preoccupied. You visit a careers counselor who opens a few doors and options for you. It’s a new direction and you walk out feeling better than when you came in. That’s a form of therapy.
The most common reasons people seek ‘formal’ therapy are loss and bereavement and other forms of distress. Mental health problems do of course feature in therapy and can involve anything from phobias to anxiety disorders to depression, addictions, stress disorders or more. Relationship issues are another factor, whether it’s trying to keep a relationship together or resolving family conflicts.
I began this Sharepost by making a bold claim that there is a stigma attached to therapy. In fact the stigma is probably associated far more with the nature of the problem being taken to the therapist. It’s a shame, because in one way or another these are all issues of mental health, yet we see no particular problem in seeing say a debt counselor, a marriage guidance counselor or maybe a careers counselor. So if you’ve balked at the idea of therapy, maybe it’s worth shaking of the preconceptions and giving the idea a second chance. One day it could come in very useful.