Therapy is not just for the wearisome…

Many of us believe counseling and psychotherapy are only intended for those exhibiting serious pathology or for individuals, couples, or families that are somehow “weak,” “sick,” or “dysfunctional.” While psychotherapy and pharmacological therapies can and do significantly improve the quality of life for those dealing with more serious pathologies—name any one of the more acute or chronic disorders you hear on the television every day followed by the latest miracle pill advertisement; those participating in some form of consistent counseling or therapy are far from weak, feeble, or ill!   

Unfortunately, therapy has long-held a social stigma reflecting images of disturbed, ill, or helpless patients or victims.  Thankfully, due in part to high profile clients (no names) and the spotlight that is cast upon their lives because of their positions of fame or power, the general public is becoming more sensitive to topics related to pathology, mental health and sustaining healthy wellbeing.  Advancements in our neurosciences have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that pathologies such as depression, anxiety, alcoholism, behavioral addictions, personality disorders, obsessive or compulsive thinking, etc. are just as real as any medical illness.  Like diabetes, the flu, cancer, or heart disease, mental illnesses are all too real and should be treated as such.  Modern technologies and the internet have also helped those in the field of psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy communicate to and educate the public on what it means to live with certain disorders; thus, helping the public to have more empathy and respect for individuals battling with certain pathology.  But, most influential of all, YOU are helping to breakdown the negative stigma and social disgrace that once closely followed psychotherapy and mental health counseling.  

Each time we learn about someone courageously reaching out to find resources, support, and education to help assist them and their loved ones through difficult and challenging times, we become a little more receptive to the idea and benefits of psychotherapy.  As our influential leaders seek support [our bosses, managers, parents, CEOs, CFOs, teachers, our President!, our preachers, the list goes on…], and as we seek support, we let others around us know that it’s not only okay to reach for a helping-hand during challenging times but it’s admirable.  

Working on our intrapersonal or interpersonal issues takes fortitude, self-awareness, great strength, flexibility, wisdom, patience, and a certain level of self-worth and self-care.  Those are certainly not negative, weak, or feeble characterological traits in any fashion; rather they are traits that prove a level of responsibility and maturation.

The mental health industry has proactively embraced the ideology of “prevention” rather than “treatment.”  As we enter a new decade, I challenge us to see therapy not as a consequential treatment for the weak or ill-minded, but to instead see it for what it is: a resource and a tool for sustaining resiliency, evading more serious circumstances, and becoming self-empowered—characteristics of impassioned, strong, and reasoned individuals and couples.  


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