So you’ve been thinking about starting therapy. Good for you! It’s nice to take care of yourself, isn’t it? Never thought about it? Read on, it’s ok. I used to be surprised when June rolled around and my phone and email would “blow up”. I’ve come to realize what an opportune time summer is for many people to slow down and actually attend to themselves in this way.
Some still misunderstand therapy as something “for crazy people” (see my previous columns regarding this stigma). While about 25% of people do experience diagnosable mental health conditions, more and more people are recognizing therapy as one practice of good mental hygiene, beneficial for anyone interested in attending to their wellbeing. After all, is there anyone who couldn’t benefit from meeting with a trained, impartial, non-judgmental, caring professional to take stock of their lives, decisions, behaviors and relationships? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to decrease their struggles or increase life satisfaction? Anyone who doesn’t want to be a better partner, parent, employee, friend, son, daughter, sibling, human being?
Fortunately, there has been a shift towards prevention and wellness in our society, but many of our beliefs about our overall wellbeing still focus on “what’s wrong”, the disease model of finding and treating illness. The Wellness model, on the other hand, is focused first and foremost on promoting health. Take going to the doctor as an example. In a disease model, you would go to the Doctor when you’re sick but in a Wellness model you would also try to do things like eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and even scheduling check ups with your Doctor. Why should it be any different for our mental health? We don’t have to wait until “something’s wrong” and there’s no doubt that our mental and physical health are very closely linked.
If you find yourself wondering if/when therapy can be valuable to you, consider the following:
Do you want to find more balance in your life?
Do you want to have closer or healthier relationships with others?
Would you like support or guidance to achieve a personal goal?
Do you need different coping strategies for handling stress, loss, or other difficult situations?
Would you like to gain a different perspective on a problem or experience?
Would you like to recognize, understand, or change patterns of thinking or behavior?
Do you want to learn how to slow down rather than racing through your life?
Do you want a more objective approach to situations rather than the input of family and friends?
Do you find yourself wanting additional support?
Do you desire more satisfying relationships or more broadly, a more satisfying life?
While this list is in no way all-inclusive of the reasons people begin therapy, you can see that there’s nothing “crazy” about these very normal ways in which we all have room to grow.