The Stigma Behind Therapy
Throughout our lives, we experience so many hardships. Whether it be stress from school, family issues, or mental/emotional obstacles, we all face them, and sometimes, it's hard to cope with it alone. We may resort to talking to the people closest to us, such as our friends and family. But sometimes they either don't understand, or they're actually apart of the problem. After this, we have no clue what to do. We're completely left clueless, and alone, once again. With this, our minds tend to go places they shouldn't, and we realize that we need real help.
The word "therapy" may sound scary to some people, and that's because we've grown up being told that it's a "negative" thing, and that people who receive professional help are "weak". But it's not fear of the word that we have, it's the fear of being stigmatized by others, which is what causes us to avoid seeking help. You have to understand exactly what therapy is and what it does before you label someone, because there are so many assumptions people make about others who go to therapy that are completely false. Here is a list of misconceptions people often tend to make.
Quite honestly, sitting in a room with a complete stranger, telling them all about your feelings is actually such a courageous and strong thing to do. It requires a lot of strength to become vulnerable and open yourself up to someone you have just met. Even though we are getting help, doesn't mean we haven't tried to help ourselves first.
NOBODY is crazy! Whether you have a mental illness or not, this term is completely inappropriate. Using this word to describe others is only going to increase the stigma that causes people to avoid seeking the professional help they need and damage ones feelings.
"We don't have supporting and caring friends/family."
Talking to a therapist is so much different than discussing things with a friend or a family member. A therapist is professionally trained to help others. They have studied for years to get their position, and the only thing they want to do is help. Friendships and relationships are a two-way street, which causes very biased views on experiences and circumstances. Whereas therapy is a one-sided relationship with a professional who has the skills and expertise to guide and help you through your struggles, according to your needs and values. Of course our families and friends are there for us, but they couldn't possibly understand what we're going through.
"We're in a bad place."
In some cases this is true, but in many cases it's not. One does not need to be in a "bad" or "dangerous" place in order see a therapist. Many people happily attend their therapy sessions because they learn a lot about themselves and how to handle situations in their everyday lives. Talking to someone also allows us to feel better about ourselves as an individual and carry on with our day confidently.
"We can't let go of things."
Therapy isn't about being unable to let go of the past. Often, being able to tackle present struggles requires us to discuss past experiences, but that doesn't mean we are dwelling on our past, it just means that we have to revisit it to understand certain connections and underlying problems we are having currently.
You should feel empathy for us or any kind of emotion you didn't feel before knowing we go to therapy.
This just enables the stigma about therapy. Don't talk to us or look at us differently just because we have admitted to seeing a therapist. There's nothing wrong with seeking help or guidance from a professional. If you have to feel an emotion, be proud of us. Applaud us on our choice to work on ourselves and cater to our mental well being.
"We're on medication."
Our society has learned that the way to "fix" ones mentality is by altering their brains chemical reactions with medication. This is false. In a lot of cases, people just need the emotional support from a therapist. Weekly visits, setting goals, and basically just venting. In other cases, medication such as Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro are needed (medication varies for different cases.) But just because they might take medication doesn't mean they're ill or mentally unstable. Some people just need a little extra boost to get them through the day.
Overall, hopefully you have learned that therapy is a common norm in our society that helps people and is a POSITIVE thing. My experience with therapy has helped me out a lot. I have weekly visits with my therapist whom I adore! I've learned so much about myself and how to cope with the many hardships I have faced throughout my life. If you're in need of professional help, DO NOT be afraid to seek it. Of course it may be scary at first, but once you take that first step, you will feel 100x better!
If you're ever in a situation where you need to talk to someone who is a professional, but can't or don't want to speak to them face to face, text "home" to 741-741. Here, you can text trained, professional, psychologists about absolutely anything if you're ever stuck in a position where you either don't feel comfortable talking to your therapist, friend, relative; or, you simply just want to speak to someone anonymously. I have used this so much and it has really helped me calm down when I feel stuck. Hopefully, it can help you too! :) x