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.

Therapy is a safe place.

We are here not to ‘fix you.’ You are not broken. Our job is to hear you. Understand your struggles, help guide you to reach your personal self growth goals, equip you with new tools that you may have not tried that could better assist you during your unique challenging period of life. Our job is to be here. To see you; all of what makes you you. We help you to see your strengths and help provide you with support that you may not currently be feeling. Entering counseling is brave act especially in a world that sees it as shameful and wrong. Mental health affects every part of our being. Taking pride in working on you is a beautiful gift to yourself and to all those whom you know. I read a quote recently that I feel fits this article. “We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown.” – Teal Swan. Don’t let the world’s preconceived notion of what counseling is dictate if it is or is not for you.

About the Author

Dana Rivera

Dana Rivera, LCPC is a Therapist at our Edison Park location. Dana works with children, teens, and adults. Dana’s specialties include self-esteem and personal growth, behavior modification, and anxiety. If you are interested in working with Dana, send an email today!