Life is busy. It’s stressful. Work, family, finances. I rarely encounter someone who absolutely has no worries or difficult times weighing on their mind.
Toss in chronic illness, death of a loved one, abusive relationships, poverty, being a single parent, or a host of other additional strains on top of the usual suspects and you’ve got a recipe for a volcano of stress and panic.
But not many people consider therapy as a solution. Perhaps you google what you’re experiencing to see if there’s a name to call the roller coaster you’re on, or to search for solutions to find some relief. You may have talked to your doctor, who likely gave you a prescription? It probably helped, at least a litttle, but you’re still struggling to feel capable of meeting life’s unending demands.
But still, going to therapy is NOT happening. At this point, it may have crossed your mind. But you had an uncle or a cousin once who was “not right” and THEY saw a therapist, so there’s no way YOU need that.
Now I realize not everyone has this plot line, and for the people that quickly assess the need and value of a therapist to sort through daily life- I love you. I applaud you!
Therapy is not for people who are crazy. I don’t even know what “crazy person” means to be honest. Someone who doesn’t like Lou Malnati’s pizza, obviously. People who drive really slow in the left lane of the interstate- definitely. Catching my drift? Perception of what’s normal and not normal is quite subjective, as my exaggerated examples show.
Beyond that, therapy is not reserved just for those that have a diagnosable mental illness.
Here are the top 3 things the average person tells me about why they like therapy:
1) “I know I have a place to come to let go of all the crap that happened this week.”
Do you have one hour every week you set aside to fully explore all the stress in your life? Probably not. It is such a relief for people to know there’s a time and place to unload everything. There’s no worry about whether the person you plan to see or talk to will be too busy to answer, or trying to unload their demons from the week and then be unavailable to help you let go of your own little fire-breathing dragon. Monday at 2 you know you’ll walk into my office, be greeted with a smile, and talk to someone EAGER to hear about your week (or Thursday at 9, I can’t see ALL of you Monday at 2...). How often does that happen in your life without therapy?
2) “I know what I say won’t leave this room.”
When you talk to your friends or family, how often does it circle back around to you from someone else? How not cool is that? You tell someone something in complete confidence, and they tell all your aunts. Worse yet, if your family doesn’t understand being overwhelmed, having a hard time dealing with stress, or anxiety and depression, your struggles may now be the family joke. That truly happens more often than you would think, if you’re lucky enough to not have this particular issue.
I am bound by confidentiality. That’s intense! You have my absolute word that none of the things you tell me will leave the room. That’s a recipe for safety to share openly if I’ve ever heard one. You can tell me whatever you want, and I’m not going to think you’re crazy or weird, I promise.
(As a side note, if you’re abusing children, you are a child being abused, or you have a plan and intend to kill your self or somebody else- then confidentiality stops applying).
3) “I want feedback from someone without an opinion.”
Everyone in your life has a stake in your well-being. Your mom and dad, siblings, friends, significant other. They want to see you well. They NEED you to be well. So much so that it’s excruciatingly painful for them to see you struggling and unwell. That’s a lot of pressure they’ve just placed on themselves to help you.
On top of that, they all have their own perception of what you need or should do to get well. This translates to a lot of people telling you what to do, and often times getting upset with you when you don’t do it. Now, we’re not going to knock on these folks too hard, because they’re trying to help because they love you. But it can be quite stressful to have a barrage of people telling you different things you have to do in order to feel less stressed, as well as worry about what will happen when you don’t do what they recommend.
Guess what? I don’t do that! That’s not my role. That’s one of my favorite parts of therapy. I obviously care about your well-being, I’m not a cold-hearted Lou Malnati’s hater that doesn’t give direct suggestions because I want to see you suffer. But I’m not your spouse, so your well-being doesn’t influence my marriage. I’m not your mom, so your well-being doesn’t influence my child. See the difference?
This frees me up to more clearly see what you need and want, and the possibility for making that happen given the realistic constraints and obstacles in your life I get to see you as YOU see you, not how I see you after 30 odd years of knowing you, or however old you are, with my own bias.
If you tell me that you’re planning on getting really intoxicated and then calling your ex to tell them how you truly feel, I’m going to tell you that’s not a good idea. But if and when you do it anyway, I’m still going to see you next week and support you and listen to you as much as I did before you made that call.
I won’t give up on you because you’ve made the same mistake again, or because you don’t agree with my recommendations.
Still think therapy is just for crazy people? If you do, that makes you crazy, and you should probably talk to a therapist about it. :)