Topic # 12 What can therapy offer me? I can do this by myself. I don’t need help!
Despite society coming a long way, the idea of THERAPY still attaches a great deal of stigma to its title. I wonder, however, if people really understand the concept behind therapy. I’ve heard many people in my office say that their partner/spouse “doesn’t believe in therapy” and they would “never be willing to try it.” If they’ve never tried therapy, how do they know what they are missing?
I think misconceptions of what therapy is really about drives their confusion and fear.
Some may think:
“I shouldn’t need anyone else to help me figure myself out”
“I’m not going to tell a stranger my deepest, darkest secrets”
“I’m not going to listen to someone who doesn’t even know me”
These thoughts are legitimate….to a point. Therapy does require a person to be relatively open, honest and able to let go of control. There is a great deal of faith one must have that they can improve their situation and feel better. Some people don’t want to do any of those things. It’s scary, especially if you have trouble with any of those requirements in your daily life.
What is unusually amazing about therapy is that the person you are talking to is trained to hear your world, through your eyes, in a very different way than anyone else in your life. The emotional distance and lack of personal intimacy between patient and therapist allows room for discovery – a type of discovery that none of us are truly capable of doing for ourselves.
Have you ever had that moment where your close friend/relative/spouse tells you over and over something you always do that isn’t working/wrong/annoying, etc. and you don’t believe them, but then one day you hear Dr. Oz or Oprah say the same thing and you go, “Wow, that makes sense!!” From then on, you feel ok to change that part of you. Sometimes hearing things from others who do not have a personal intimacy with you can lessen your defenses and brings about insight, which brings about change and growth.
As a psychologist, my job is to help people better understand who they are, why they are that way, why they do what they do/think/feel and how to become their BEST self. I don’t judge them nor do I tell them what to do because we all have our own answers inside of us. Anxiety and depression will reduce if you are behaving in accordance with your true self. And nobody can tell us who that is and what to do…change has to come from within. Change can only occur when you can honestly see yourself, and a good therapist allows you this experience.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend everyone participate in therapy, even if only for a few sessions to see how it feels to be truly heard.