Our society has come a long way, but some people still harbor suspicions about the person who has a need for therapy. “Weak”… “Dependent”…“Crazy”… are the labels they use. The result? Those who are considering therapy may shy away when it would really help them. Why all the judgment? Why this unforgiving attitude? Thank God, not everyone thinks this way!
Because I’m a therapist, I can say these presumptions are unrealistic and a waste of time! Many people who have come to me are very independent. People often choose to go into therapy for help with relationships, relief from emotional pain or to improve the fabric of their lives. The point is that they are choosing to take control over their lives. We actually should be recognizing them for their smarts! And their guts! Even if the therapy process is hard for them or a part of them feels resistant to change, they still go for it.
And if Rosa comes to therapy because she feels fragile or dependent and is in crisis, so what? If Sanderson wants help with an anger problem and wants to save his marriage and family relationships, I respect him for this. These two individuals recognize they want something better for themselves and are willing to do something about it, unlike Tomas whose family suffers from his judgmental attitudes. He’s so busy judging everybody else that he doesn’t even know HE has a problem.
However, a truly heartbreaking scenario is when someone forgoes seeking the help they need when they are suicidal, homicidal, battered, or have other urgent problems. Another sad scenario occurs when someone continues to struggle in life all because of fear of judgment. The concern here is that this person will miss the opportunity to discover that his or her inner and outer life could come to surpass anything he or she thought possible. Additionally, therapy for one person can positively affect a whole family!
I’ve respected and admired the people who have come through my door. Getting to know them has enriched me. I see how sometimes, to resolve one’s issues, it takes true perseverance and the willingness to see oneself or one’s life in a new way. Sometimes it takes great courage. But I know and my clients have discovered that, actually, therapy can be an exciting process. And amid the seriousness that may be there, my client and I can also enjoy the process and share some laughter. I learned years ago that no effort is wasted. And there’s no feeling like that of knowing you’ve come a long way or that you could solve a problem when you thought it impossible.
Emotional needs should be thought of no differently than the physical ailments that a doctor would treat, such as high blood pressure. Although the stigma surrounding psychotherapy has lessened through the years, there’s much more room for positive growth.
* Please Note: While I’d very much like to answer every individual comment and question, time does not allow. I am eager to read each one and will be happy to write about the subjects in which readers seem to be most interested. If you have individual questions, you can call me at 802-356-1532, and I’ll be happy to arrange for an initial consultation free of charge.