Hey there! My name is Dana Mooney, licensed mental health counselor with Inner Trek, LLC. And welcome to Therapy Questions! This is a little mini series where I answer your questions about mental health and therapy. So today's question is: Why should I go to therapy?
I got this question last week and this is a really common question for people who are kind of unsure whether or not they should seek therapy, or they're kind of on the fence. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna talk about five pit falls that I hear when people are discussing this issue that stop them from getting help.
So, the first thing that I hear a lot is, "I can handle it on my own. I'm not sure that I need help right now." So, there are two underlying beliefs here that stop people from getting help. The first one is that, "I can handle it on my own and if I ask for help, that means that I'm weak." I think especially for those of us that live in the US we get a lot of reinforcement for being independent and being able to 'do it on your own'. I think, I really view it in the opposite way, that asking for help is this huge sign of strength, and a sign of humility, and a sign of being able to set aside your ego and admit "I can't control all of this stuff by myself. And that's fine. And I need someone to help me through it. And that's okay."
The other underlying belief "I can handle it on my own" is people say "I can handle it on my own because if I don't handle it on my own, that means that there's something wrong with me, or that there's some kind of problem with me, or that I'm broken, or that I'm crazy." And I think that this is a huge part of the mental health stigma that we're still kind of fighting through. And it can be really isolating, and it can make you feel like you're the only one here that's struggling with this thing and you can't get through it by yourself.
So let me share with you a little bit of statistics on the prevalence of mental health here, so that you know that you're not alone here. In the US, in a given year, one in five people will struggle with their mental health. One in five with diagnosable mental health issues. So think about that when you're sitting around with four other humans. One of y'all is probably struggling right now. Also let me talk to my LGBTQ people, those are the folks that I work with a lot. If you are in this community, you are 2-3 times more likely to be struggling with your mental health in a given year. 2-3 times more likely, I mean that's a big deal. So if you're struggling right now, you are totally not alone. This is a normal part of the human experience. It's a crappy part, but it's a normal part.
Okay, so let's move on to the second one. The second one I hear a lot is, "I don't think it's to the point where I need therapy." And I think that there's this myth out there that things need to be really really bad before you get to, you know before you go seek a therapist. Like you gotta be at a point where like you're in crisis and you're hitting rock bottom and all your relationships are destroyed and like...Please, please, please don't wait that long, for your sake and for ours. I mean, surely if you're at that point, like definitely definitely get help, but it's gonna be better for you the earlier you can get in to seek therapy, because the pile of struggles is gonna be smaller for you to work through. And, so yeah. It doesn't need to be "that bad" to go to therapy. There's not like a line.
Okay, so let's see, I also hear a lot, "I just don't understand how talking about my problems will help. Talking about my problems makes me feel worse." Okay, this really really makes sense to me. I can get this one because I've done this, everybody's done this, where they sit, they're having an issue and they sit on their couch, and they're like, "(Sigh) I've got this issue, and I wanna look at it, and I wanna kinda like, explore it." But the issue is so close, it's like right here. And so all I can see is this spot, and a couple of the edges out here. But maybe the issue is actually, THIS BIG. Right? And I can't see the whole thing because I'm so close to it. And maybe my friends are so close to it to, or my family, or whoever I shared about this issue with, they're close to it because they can only see it through this lens that I see , too. And what going to therapy does, is that therapist has that bird's eye view. It's not their issue. So, they can really take a big wide view of the thing, and give you a lot of different perspectives that you may not be able to see when you're so close. So that's really the benefit that you get.
Let's see, and then "Talking about my problems makes me feel worse." I hear this a lot with people who have a tendency to sort of stuff their feelings down, and go like, "Okay well, these feelings, I can't deal with them right now. These experiences, I can't deal with them right now. I'm gonna put them in this box, and I'm gonna put them over here. And then I won't have to deal with them." And, yeah, like that works, sometimes. That works, in the short term when you really need to kind of get stuff done. And you gotta compartmentalize for functionality. Totally, totally works. But if you leave the stuff in the box for so, so long, it will seep out. And it will seep out in unexpected and uncomfortable ways. And so, finding a person that you feel comfortable to talk about those things with, who is trained to help you through things in a safe way can be really really really helpful to make it so that talking about those things becomes less and less and less uncomfortable. And sometimes just that exposure to the thing over and over again in a safe place can be really helpful.
Okay, so, let's see. The other thing I hear a lot is, "I just don't have time for therapy right now." Hoo! This is a really big red flag. If you're at a point where you don't have one hour every week or every other week to set aside for yourself, that's a red flag. I hear this a lot from students. I hear it a lot from parents, caregivers, professionals, or people that work more than one job, or many many hours. It's like, "Oh I don't have any time for myself to do this, to address this, to deal with this right now." And, really that's something to look at, you know, if you don't have an hour, maybe some changes need to be made.
Let's see, and then the last one that I hear a lot is, "Well I've tried therapy before, but it didn't really help." This one really is sad, because it's true. You know, some people have horrible experiences in therapy, and that's real. Some people just don't click with their therapist, or maybe their therapist said something that really hit them the wrong way and gave them a bad taste in their mouth. And I just want to say, all therapists are gonna be different. All therapists are gonna gel with you differently, and they work a little bit differently with people, so trying more than one time, two, three, four times to find somebody who works for you is really the thing. Don't give up.
I mean I imagine, I kind of think about the way that you look for a bed. Right, if you are look for a new mattress, if you were to go into the mattress store and then lay down on one bed and you're like, "Oh I don't really like this one." and then you go to the next one and then you lay down on that one and you go, "Gosh, this bed's really uncomfortable too. You know what, that must mean that all beds are really uncomfortable. I should probably never sleep on a bed again because these ones were really uncomfortable and I didn't like them." Like, that sounds just totally ridiculous, right? Well, it's the same way with therapy, cause therapy is really, really helpful when you find somebody who will gel with you.
Okay. So, those were the five common pitfalls that I hear a lot when people are wondering, "Why should I go see a therapist?"
If you have questions and you would like me to answer them on the next episode, you can put them in the comments here on the video. You can send them to me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can submit them on my submission form on my website innertrekllc.com. So thank you so much for watching, and be well!