Do I need a therapist?

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Tons of people ask themselves this: Do I need a therapist? I have news for you. You need a therapist. This might not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear.

Before you protest, let me explain. I’m not really talking about you, the unique and amazing individual reading this right now. I’m talking about, in the general sense, the “universal” you. The you that is all of us. That’s right. Everyone in the world could benefit from having a therapist. Alright, maybe not babies — they are eternally wise and magical — but everyone else could most definitely benefit.

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Blame it on society

In the United States, we typically don’t talk openly about therapy. There is so much baggage attached to the word “therapy.” We feel that if we need to go to a therapist that we are in some way broken, that we have failed. We think that going to a therapist is an admission of our weaknesses. In a society that bases self-worth on productivity and accumulating money and things, we are indoctrinated to compare ourselves to others. If we don’t meet societal standards, we internalize not being good enough. We tend to think of therapy as a last resort when our worlds fall apart. It’s time dispel this notion. It’s time to change the conversations we have about what it means to go to therapy.

Why you need a therapist

1. We are subjective.

Because we are the protagonists of our own lives, we are, by default, biased towards or our experiences, thoughts, and actions. Because we are biased, we have a hard time realizing when we are doing something that is not working well for us. A therapist can provide unbiased support to help us gain perspective and come to a more well-rounded understanding of who we are, and how we behave, in our interactions with others.

2. Families do the best they can, but they only provide one model for dealing with the world.

When we are children, our families are the most important people in our lives. They provide us, hopefully, with physical, social, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. Our family members, whether we live with our parents, grandparents, or other relatives, serve as our role models and demonstrate how to navigate increasingly complex social situations as time goes by. As we get older, we distance ourselves from our parents, but the rules and social norms that we experienced when we were kids tend to stay with us as we become adults. Sometimes those rules and norms make us adept at handling all social situations we face. Most likely, though, is that we could learn a few more tricks of the living trade. Trained therapists can provide that information and guide us along in our social and emotional growth.

3. It’s perfectly normal to feel like you aren’t good enough.

We might be ashamed to admit it, but it is perfectly normal to feel like things aren’t going well. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of courage. The strongest people in the world ask for help. If you live in the United States, you most likely were trained to think that you had to become self-sufficient, that becoming independent was the ultimate goal. There’s nothing wrong with learning how to be independent, but there is a time and place for being self-sufficient.

We all get by with a little help from our...

What is more likely is that we could benefit from a little help from our friends — and from professional counseling. Being more effective at work is easier when we lean on our coworkers. Changing a tire is less stressful when we have someone by our side. Navigating the storms of life is more manageable with a committed partner. So it is in communicating our private struggles with a trained therapist. Getting help to make sense of our feelings, especially our self-doubt, gives us the reassurance that what we are feeling is normal — and that we don’t need to go it alone.

It gets easier after this

There are many more reasons why anyone could benefit from seeing a therapist, but these are some of the most important. Acknowledging our common human struggles is the first step. The next step is to find a therapist with whom we feel comfortable taking risks and talking about our lives.

Stay tuned for future posts on finding a therapist who is both helpful and a good fit with your own unique personality.

Now that you know you need a therapist, you’ve already won half of the battle.

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