This is why I go to therapy every week

And why you might like to too

It saddens me that there’s still so much stigma around seeking support for your mental health — for seeing a therapist, and for talking about it at apparently ‘inappropriate’ times, like well anywhere outside of the therapist’s room. And that as a result many people hold back from engaging with therapy.

We don’t shame people for going to the doctor when they have an earache, or an unexplained lump or pain — in fact we positively encourage it.

And yet we seem to have failed to apply the same logic to our emotional wellbeing — in some cases actively dissuading people from seeking support in the form of psychiatric or psychological help.

And I just don’t get it…

My hour with my therapist is, without a doubt, the best hour of my week.

Perhaps some of the stigma and fear comes from not really knowing what happens at therapy. What you’re ‘supposed’ to say. Or how it really works. Or whether you’ll do it ‘right’.

So let me demystify it a little…

It’s an hour to talk about anything you like. Whatever is on your mind — whether it’s bothering, saddening, frustrating, angering or exciting you. Sometimes I know what I want to talk about, sometimes I don’t and we start with something from the previous week. But whatever it is — you get to talk about it. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Hey, you can even sit in silence if you want to.

Not only that, but you get to talk to someone whose only purpose is to listen to you and support you in working through whatever it is you are talking about. Someone who is trained in understanding the psychology of our brains and is totally objective in your life.

Do you know how fricking valuable that is?!

I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s easy. Because it’s not. You have to go prepared to do some work. Because by virtue of the fact the person you are talking to is trained in understanding our brains, behaviours, patterns etc, they’re going to make you confront stuff you never wanted to see, or would probably never see had they not pointed it out to you. You’re going to have to take some responsibility for your life to date — including the shit stuff you think just happened to you, not because of you. (Yeah that bit is pretty hard to take but also pretty fricking liberating).

 

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And fuck it hurts sometimes. To sit with feelings we get so good at squashing down so far so we don’t have to deal with them is excruciatingly painful. But on the other side of that pain is this amazing clarity and understanding of yourself, of your choices, your patterns and more importantly, an understanding that it is entirely within your control to choose differently.

I honestly believe we would all be living in a much kinder, more honest and connected world if everyone received psychotherapy.

(There are other types but that is a subject for another post!). We could all benefit from speaking to someone objective in our lives for an hour a week.

But there’s nothing wrong with me, I hear you say…

I’m not saying there is. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me either, and I don’t believe that there was even when I first started seeing my therapist in January when I was experiencing depression.

What I am saying is that we all carry around conscious and subconscious beliefs about ourselves, our relationships and the world that have been formed from our experience and that sometimes aren’t helping us to show up in the best way possible in our lives. In some cases, they are actively causing pain, damage and destruction in our lives. In other words, we all have our own shit to deal with.

And that is what therapy is about — helping you unpick those unhelpful thoughts and experiences (even when you don’t think there’s anything to unpick) and being able to choose to think and feel differently. To feel more fulfilled, more self-aware, kinder to yourself, more forgiving, happier, to better understand your relationships with others and how they can be richer and to understand how you can achieve the things you want for yourself more easily and with more self-confidence.

But my partner / brother / mother / best friend already points out all my shit…

Ah but do they really?

They only point out the stuff they can see from their perspective… They also have an agenda most of the time — yes even our parents. It’s very hard for the people who love us to take their own emotions and own subjective view of us, and their own experiences out of the equation when they are helping us work through something. And it’s exceptionally rare that they would ever be able to admit or see their role in causing something negative in our life — we are all guilty of this because we are all human.

 

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And it doesn’t make them (or us) wrong or bad people, but it does mean that our loved ones aren’t always the best people for us to talk to, and that sometimes they are part of the problem (not that they, or we, tend to see it).

I mean, people train for years to be able to provide psychotherapy to us, they have an understanding of developmental psychology, of the impact certain things have on us at certain stages of our life and of how to remain objective when dealing with situations or stories that might trigger events in their own lives. They are FAR better equipped to help us work through our shit than any of our loved ones.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk to them about what’s happening for us but I do think we should also be talking to someone whose job it is to really understand the implications of what we are telling them.

So yes, my hour therapy session is the best hour of my week.

Because not only is it an hour purely for me to talk about and work through whatever I want without feeling like I have to support someone in return, but because it also makes me a better person, it makes me happier and more confident, kinder, lighter, more conscious of my actions and more whole.

And it will continue to do so as I move through life and my experiences change.

So, if I’ve even piqued your interest a little bit and you’re keen to explore a therapist, you can search for accredited therapists by postcode through the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

And my advice on choosing one? Read their profiles, areas of expertise, check out their websites and just see which one you vibe with… If necessary, book a consult with a couple and then decide who you prefer. You are under no obligation to continue with a therapist if you don’t like them… And it’s so important that you do like their energy, their approach and their manner.

You can reach me on steph@hellostephslack.com if there’s anything else you want to know, or I can help you with :)

 

Steph Slack