One of the biggest reasons people don’t seek out therapy is because there is such stigma surrounding it. Welcome to May – National Mental Health Awareness Month!
I sometimes even find myself, a counselor who genuinely believes in the benefits of therapy, justifying my own personal counseling. I catch myself saying things like “yes, I have a therapist, it was a requirement for my program.” The subtext kind of insecurity obviously says “if they didn’t require it, I wouldn’t have gone to therapy, and if I don’t inform you that it was a requirement, you might think I’m a nut job.” I hate when I catch myself doing this, perpetuating the stigma that a) only people with “something wrong” should go to therapy, and b) that there’s “something wrong” with feeling that there’s “something wrong!”
I love therapy. I love having a good, solid therapeutic relationship with my therapist. I love how when I leave her office I feel lighter and refreshed. I love the things I think about after. I love having someone with an “outside” perspective to talk to, in good times and in bad. I love the process of digging deeper and understanding myself better. In times of grief, I have appreciated already having this relationship built so that I didn’t have to start from the beginning. In times of triumph, I have been grateful to have someone who would understand the journey that got me there.
Dar Williams has a wonderful song, called “What do you hear in these sounds” that I always sing to myself on my way home. I think it’s a great show of what therapy can be.
So listen, and then do more. Talk. Talk and talk and talk. The more people who talk, the more we fight the stigma.