Who Needs Therapy?
The most common question I'm asked is "What kind of people come to see you?"
Being a therapist, I obviously think there’s great value in therapy for everyone. Recently I found myself thinking about my own initial resistance to having therapy and I realised that I could have benefitted from it long before I actually went. I didn’t go for a few reasons.
1. I didn’t think I needed it
Therapy is for people who aren’t coping, right? People who are mentally ill. People who can’t handle life.
This is often the point that people are at when they seek therapy, but therapy can actually be far more useful if it is sought earlier. When I started therapy I felt ashamed that I needed it, like there was something wrong with me. If you’re anything like me, you probably wait until you’re dying before you ask for help, but what about going not because you need it, but because you want to support yourself? You get your car serviced in order to keep it running smoothly, so why not treat yourself with as much care? Instead of ‘coping’ with life, what would it be like to celebrate it, love it, be excited by it? Therapy can help you deepen your self-awareness and bring more joy to every aspect of your life.
2. I couldn’t see how it would help.
How can talking to someone help? And anyway, talking is what friends are for, right?
Friends are wonderful supporters. Sometimes talking to a friend is all we need, but they always want to help us, offering solutions and trying to give us answers. They hurt when they see us hurting because they love us. A therapist is different because although therapists care, we’re trained to be able to sit with your pain, not avoid it or stop you feeling it, like friends sometimes feel the need to do. One of the most healing things we can have is someone who is prepared to feel our pain with us without flinching. A therapist doesn’t just listen to your stories. A good therapist brings greater awareness to all parts of your experience and helps you understand and accept yourself.
3. I thought a therapist couldn’t change the circumstances of my life.
It’s true that a therapist can’t change what is happening in your life, nor should they try. As a therapist, my job is to help people become more aware of how they respond to what’s happening in their lives, and open up other possibilities. Life is sometimes hard and unfair. Therapy can help you roll with the punches, and get to a point where you don’t even feel like you’re being punched at all. For those with children, there’s the added benefit of passing on the peace and wisdom you gain, instead of passing on all your reactions and neuroses.
I’ll be forever grateful that I have benefitted from therapy and I can’t imagine my life without the awareness I’ve gained. I now navigate life more easily that I ever thought possible.
If you want a recommendation for a wonderful therapist in Sydney, Melbourne or Ballarat, inbox me and I’d be more than happy to help.
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Laura is a Gestalt counsellor and psychotherapist in Melbourne's inner North.