The Stigma of Therapy
Recently, I have been hearing more and more of the stigma people have towards therapy. We are brought up in a world that has high expectations but told we should never crumble or need help. I saw a 7 year old client that stated during our first session, “I don’t want to see a therapist.” Upon further questioning, he could not articulate reasons as to why but just felt ‘no one has a therapist.’ This reminded me that from a young age, the world conditions us to not admit our struggles, encourages us to continue to keep our masks on, and never discuss any perceived ‘weaknesses.’ In my very own family, I have experienced relatives mocking my profession making remarks such as, “I would give a therapist one session to ‘fix me!” Insinuating there is ‘something broken to begin with.’
So I began to think. What is the world afraid of when it comes to therapy?
There seems to be these overall themes I hear. People make remarks about such as, “Something must be wrong with me or them,” or “I don’t have a problem.” Truth is, most people I work with are individuals whom are going through difficult transitions/adjustments to different life events-not ‘people needing ‘fixing’ or who are ‘broken.’ Instead, they are individuals whom have made the realization that they are finding it difficult to move through a period of their life. Some of the events that could be stress inducing or difficult transitions could be parental divorce, bullying, marital/relationship communication struggles, death of a loved one, work stressors, parenting struggles, family conflict, health concerns or diagnosis acceptance, working through ‘what do I want to do in my life?’ and the list could go on and on. All of these are issues that every human being will experience at some point in our life.
But we are conditioned to think we should be able to do it alone-not knowing how or when to ask for help.
I often discuss with clients the way modern day medicine is going. Through our employment we are often recommended or required to have yearly physicals or blood work to stay on top of our health. We as a society do not view this as negative. It is a way for us to stay on top of our health; not let things escalate to a point that we become unknowing ill or to a point where we must put in a lot of work to recover. Instead, we willingly go straight to the doctor for minor colds that may not subside within the expected amount of time.
It seems shocking to me that so many individuals do not have this same viewpoint when it comes to our emotional well being. Break-ups are hard, grief after a loved one sometimes feels unbearable, life after divorce seems strange and unfamiliar, bullying makes us question ourselves and our self worth…yet we don’t seek out help/guidance/assistance with moving through these difficult times.