I have been a therapist for more than 12 years and I still love helping people as a therapist just like I did from day one. Yet, there is still one thing that really bugs me about the work I do.
It was never on my radar growing up that I would BE a therapist. I did, however, know that I wanted to help people so I began serving as a candy striper at a local hospital and nursing home when I was in high school. Needless to say, it was in those days that I decided beyond a shadow of a doubt that nursing was NOT FOR ME!!
Why you might ask? One, I realized I did not want doctors telling me what to do; and two, I did not like changing sheets and feeding people. Yes, I just said that, but it is true… it just wasn’t the gig for me! Now, you wanna know the crazy part in all of this? Years later, I married a doctor AND I have two children that I care for daily. Joke is on ME, right?!? 😉
My point and what the joke isn’t…. I knew the helping field WAS FOR ME. I just had no clue what that looked like until years later when I began my Graduate program at Carson Newman College studying with other folks like me who wanted to spend their days helping others too. So, off we went on a journey together into and through the world of counseling. This is where I truly learned what helping others through relationship and conversation was like. It was pure joy!
What is not so joyful? The fact of realizing we all have problems…. YES, every single one of us. Not only that, we all have “issues”. Oh, did I say the word “issue”? Pardon me, “issues” are for “other” people, right? Isn’t that what we say when we or someone else is going through something or behaving differently…. “issues?” And if there are “issues” then a person needs “therapy” and well, that is just shameful and something worth hiding. This is absolutely the ONE thing that has honestly bugged me for years as a therapist. I could help others in many ways, but this stigma around therapy is one of the big reasons I went into the mental health field. I have a dream and a vision within me of one day removing the stigma of and around therapy altogether!
The real truth is that we live in a fallen world people! Why would we even begin to think we could possibly have it all together and that we don’t need help to keep it together?
So, in my pursuit of a dream, here are some questions I often think about as a therapist.
1. What’s the big deal?
2. Why is therapy so stigmatized?
3. Why are we ashamed to say we need help?
4. Why are we so afraid to share that we are getting help?
5. Why is therapy the statement that is whispered during a conversation in a public place?
I get that these are somewhat rhetorical questions. However, and seriously… ok, now this adds to my mind even a few more questions:
6. When were we told that we had to keep our problems and getting help a secret?
7. Is it out of fear that someone would think we are “crazy?”
8. Are we afraid to even admit to ourselves that we might not have it all together?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer for these questions. I do wonder what your answers might be to these questions? I know, as a licensed therapist, where I stand on these matters. In a nutshell, I have learned that talking can start the process of healing. I don’t physically heal people because I am only human. But, I can listen and I can help after being invited into someone’s life for what may be a few sessions or a number of sessions. I also believe, as I am a Christian, that the work of the Holy Spirit who can heal us from the inside out, has been present in more sessions than I could even dare to count. He makes True Healing possible…. and it all began in a room, talking about the truth of things.
[callout]Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17)[/callout]
Even though there is ONE thing that bugs me, I am grateful for the work I have been called to do and being a part of someone’s life or family! I believe in healing through relationships and conversation. There is no call or reason for shame, just a beautiful thing that God has done. It is the place where freedom can be found and I am so happy to be a part of the work to help and support others in whatever way they need.
[reminder]Do you or does someone you know have trouble admitting there is a need for help? Why do you think there is such a stigma around therapy? I’d love to hear your thoughts about seeking help from a therapist.[/reminder]