So When Do I Seek Therapy?
Even after a plethora of public figures and entities have endorsed the benefits of therapy over the last decade, mental health treatment still retains a stigma. Many people still regard the pursuit of psychotherapy as a sign of weakness. Or worse, as a sign of being “crazy”. Or as an invasion of personal privacy. Or as an admission of helplessness and hopelessness. These notions may dissuade those that could really benefit from these services from attaining help. Sadly, the resultant avoidance of therapy based on these beliefs can prevent the healing that can truly be initiated when the right therapeutic relationship and connection is found.
In a way, therapy is simple. And when to pursue it, straightforward. It’s not about being abnormal. It is about acknowledging when one’s own personal “normal” has been interrupted. So, if relationships that have previously worked are now sources of turmoil. If one’s self-image is negative or dark. If anxiety or depression has become invasive in one’s every day life. If it is difficult to pursue one’s professional and/or personal goals. If behaviors are causing internal or external conflict. These are all scenarios that highlight when professional services might be useful, relieving, and ultimately healing.
Seeking psychological support does require one to visit a place of vulnerability. It requires acknowledgment that help is needed. It requires an admission that some aspect of life is causing pain or distress. But it also marks a beginning. It initiates a process of self-reflection and the mobilization of resources that can facilitate a more peaceful existence. It is a life affirming decision. It demonstrates one saying “yes” to participating actively in their own life. Yes to healing. Yes to the journey of seeking a more comfortable state of being. Yes to the pursuit of greater internal tranquility and calm.
So, now to the nuts and bolts of seeking therapy. How does one find the right therapist? It can feel overwhelming to commence that process. There are many resources and websites that list psychologists by specialty and by area. (Psychologytoday.com, Find-a-therapist.com). Internet searches seeking clinicians in one’s area can yield many compelling leads.
Additionally, there is a critical piece that each individual seeking therapy should know: It is important to interview a few therapists and find the right match for oneself. This endeavor is a subjective, somewhat intuitive process. It has to feel right. There is energy, personality, and approach that must be considered. It is important to trust one’s gut in this process. But it is also important to take a leap of faith. Sometimes feeling challenged or uncomfortable can lead to deep self-reflection and change. Certainly, balancing all of these notions can be difficult. The bottom line is to select a therapist that yields enough comfort to build an environment where important work can be done.
Hopefully, the outdated idea that therapy signals weakness or sickness continues to dissipate. Hopefully, more and more people come to feel that therapy is simply a resource to enhance self-understanding and to shift dynamics in one’s life that no longer serve. Hopefully more and more peace and healing enter in to all of our lives.