And when I say everyone should go to therapy, I do mean everyone.
Everyone has stressors in their lives and therapy is a place to talk about any and all of them. Your therapist won’t laugh at your or berate you for talking too much (or at least, they shouldn’t and if they do, find a new therapist pronto). It’s literally their job to listen, care, and to give advice when asked.
It doesn’t matter if you need to vent about your parents or boss, if you need help organizing your to-do lists, need to work through depression and anxiety, or need to cry about the death of your hamster. Everyone deserves access to stigma-free mental health care. It’s critical now more than ever, give the documented decrease in mental wellness resulting from our current political climate.
Mental health is still misunderstood, however. People feel their problems aren’t bad enough to “warrant” therapy, or that others will judge them for seeking help. And unfortunately, they are sometimes right about the latter. Society does still judge people seeing therapists, believing them to be “messed up” or dangerous. Both of which are silly.
Going to a therapist is like getting a regular physical. It’s good for your health and everyone should do it. Here are five reasons why the same can be said about seeing a therapist.
1. Everybody has concerns that need to be spoken aloud (literally).
There are times when I go to my therapy session and I start talking about something that has been irking me for the past couple weeks. In the intervening time between sessions, the problem seemed insurmountable and hard to fully understand. But 20 minutes into conversation with my therapist, I’ve already talked myself through it. That’s because things sound different outside your own head than inside. Often, they don’t even have to say much because we know more about how to solve our problems than we give ourselves credit for. Talking to a therapist helps you clarify your problems and find solutions.
2. It’s better for those around you.
Not to say that you shouldn’t talk about your problems with those closest to you: family, loved ones, the clerk at your favorite bodega. But even your mom doesn’t have an obligation to drop what’s she’s doing and listen to your most mundane problems all the time. And that’s okay, because your therapist does. They have a contractual obligation to listen.
Heck, I’ve found that therapy is great for talking about my most mundane life problems possibly even more than my traumatic ones. Because it’s those everyday stressors that can really bug us out. Edith from work may really grind your gears when she chews her nails right next to you but, alas, your significant other would rather chew their own nails right off than hear about Edith again. But your therapist is down to hear you vent. And sometimes that’s all you need.
3. It helps you compartmentalize.
That doesn’t mean repress. But carving out a regular time and designating it “time to talk about my feelings for 60-90 minutes” helps teach your brain it doesn’t have to stress out all the time. Many people who experience anxiety find making lists helps. Achievable to-do lists that alleviate the guilt that can come from feeling overwhelmed. You focus on completing the tasks on the list and nothing else. When you’re done, give yourself an ice cream cone because you’ve accomplished a lot. Therapy is like those lists. It’s a place where you’ve given yourself permission to focus on your mental health and talk about whatever you need to. When you’re done, give yourself an ice cream sundae because that’s a bigger accomplishment than you think.
4. The country would be better off.
America is not doing so well right now. Politics are exceptionally brutal and it’s not doing our mental health any favors. What’s more, the Senate’s health care plan eliminates most mental health funding — thankfully, that junk didn't pass. But still, this confluence of events means we have more stressed, anxious people and possibly fewer resources to help them. While I’m not a social scientist, I will bet my first child that if we went the opposite direction and offered universal mental health funding to anyone who needed it, we would slowly but surely become a happier and healthier society.
I’m not saying I’ve found the solution to all our problems, but what if, okay? What if...