I wanted to write this week about therapy – going to therapy and talking about it.
Being in training and in my field of work, it’s really important to undergo personal therapy, not only so you can experience the process from the other side, but more importantly, so you can work on resolving any issues you might have which might affect your ability as a therapist.
Despite it’s massive increase in popularity in recent years, it seems therapy is still a massive taboo. I remember in my early twenties when I suffered from an eating disorder, I went to see a brilliant therapist who, I’m sure, saved my life. Did I talk about it? No – people would have thought I was insane!
So why don’t we tell people we’re talking through our problems with someone who can help us feel better? When we’re ill we tell people we’re going to see a doctor. Who decided it was OK to take drugs if you’re not feeling well but if something’s upsetting your mental well-being, talking about it is a big no-no?
Perhaps it’s actually the word – ‘mental’ – mental health – it conjures up images of very unfortunate people with severe problems or ‘weak’ people. Certainly my parents’ generation believe firmly that any sort of depression or mental health problem shows a significant weakness in character. It’s the British tradition of ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’.
I wanted to talk about the reality of going to therapy, and why people might choose to go.
Therapy rarely takes place in a darkened room on a reclining couch anymore. It normally takes place in a light and comfortable room, with nice comfy chairs. There’s also a growing group of therapists that ‘see’ clients online – either via instant messaging in real time, on skype (video conferencing) or via email.
It sounds silly, but therapy really is just talking to someone about your feelings. Depending on the style and paradigm the therapist works from, they may ask questions or challenge you but it’s not some weird or scary conversation, it’s a place where you can let your guard down, be yourself and get any worries or concerns off your chest.
So if it’s just somewhere to go and talk, why not sit down with your friend and a nice glass of wine? Do you tell your best friend everything – everything? Chances are from time to time there are going to be things you don’t tell them and the great thing about a therapy room is that it’s separate. It’s an objective space for you to reflect on your feelings and explore them with the guidance of someone trained to help you.
The therapist won’t make decisions for you, but give you the space you need and ask the right questions to come to the right decision for you or to see things in a new light. Have you ever felt like you could use a fresh perspective?
So why not talk about it?
Personality, all those years ago when I had an eating problem and saw my therapist, I felt like I’d failed, like no-one would understand where I was coming from – heck – half the time I didn’t know where I was coming from!
In the end I reached out to friends and family and they were super supportive and helpful, but I still never told my colleagues. I don’t know if I ever would.
I think it depends on the sort of people you talk to about therapy, but it is becoming less of a taboo the more people share their experiences. It shouldn’t be a weakness to seek to improve yourself rather than struggling and pushing away people who care about you, it should be considered a strength.
Share your experiences with me – hopefully, story by story, we can clear the taboo around therapy!