I don’t need to see a shrink, there’s nothing wrong with me.
We’ll start off by expressing our opinion. We don’t like nor agree with the term “shrink” when referring to a psychological professional. It’s short for head-shrinker, and reflects the belief that psychotherapy shrinks your brain. We’ll take things back, way back, to before we were born. We were taught that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, psychology was a new science. Men looking to explore a new frontier in science turned their sights on the human mind.
As with any new field, there were good methods and bad methods, good doctors and bad doctors. We’ve heard about mad scientists preforming horrific procedures on oftentimes unwilling victims, which (because of the availability heuristic) negatively skews how the collective ‘we’ views the common psychologist. The consequence of this “discovery” period is how we perceive the field, with mistrust and doubt. Who are psychology professionals? What do they do? How can they help me?
Psychology is not mind voodoo or magic.
Psychology is a legitimate science backed up by decades of research and science. However, we know that many people don’t believe in it. Or, the alternative, they believe that psychologists have the power to fundamentally change who they are and what they think. Psychobabble is not a spell, and sitting down with someone to talk about their life is not magic. These two extremes bookend the range of perspectives that keep psychology, especially therapy, in the realm of “other” as far as public perception is concerned.
Why is therapy so taboo?
Finally, we can address the question that brought us here today. There’s a lot of fear that therapy, especially needing it, will communicate to others that we aren’t “normal”. In other words, a lot of people think that going to therapy means that they’re “crazy”, and they fear that others will think that as well. Often, words like “crazy”, “weak”, and “sick” are what come to mind when a person is confronted with the possibility of going to therapy. These stigmas are unique to psychology; no one thinks that about cardiologists, neurologists, or any other specialist. So we want to unpack the most common arguments we hear against therapy.
1. There’s nothing wrong with me.
There doesn’t have to be anything “wrong” with you in order for you to seek outside council. It’s normal for us to go to the doctor for an annual check-up with no health issues present. So why do we need to have an existing mental health issue to go sit down and talk about life with a therapist? Therapists are brain doctors. They can be instrumental in helping us deal with everyday life stresses and feel better! We can’t pretend we don’t all stress or that we don’t all feel overwhelmed with our own lives sometimes. Therapists are trained professionals that help us deal with life in the healthiest way that we can. Health is the key word here. We are taught to take care of our bodies but not our minds, but that doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be.
2. I don’t need to talk to anyone.
Who doesn’t need to talk to someone? We’re thankful to have loving families and friends that we can call if we ever need to talk, but our family and friends can only help so much. Therapists are trained to listen. They aren’t trained to attack you or judge you, but to help you cope.
3. How can they help me?
Hannah has never seen a therapist, but I actively see a therapist at least once a week. I started to explore the idea of seeing a therapist when I was around 18 or 19 years old. I was feeling strange. Everything felt overwhelming. I was attending community college after 3 years of being homeschooled in high school, and I was feeling anxious almost all of the time.
Though I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling during this time, I still needed to know why I wasn’t feeling okay. I started thinking about finding a therapist to help me sort things out. I don’t like to feel held back by my own feelings, and I was determined to get answers for myself. So I did. If it weren’t for exploring the idea of therapy, I would have never gotten the clarity I needed to grow and to ultimately feel better.
4. They’re a stranger… what do they know? They don’t know me.
Our favorite thing about therapy is that, initially at least, they don’t know you. They don’t know your life or your story. It’s up to you to tell them who you are. Honestly, they aren’t going to spend time trying to figure you out. You have to tell the therapist your own story. They aren’t there to judge you or shrink your brain, they’re there to expand it, to open it, and to help. A therapy session takes two to be successful. A committed therapist working with you to reach your goals, and you working to reach your goals. Sessions aren’t always about sitting down and talking about problems. You can talk about all things life: problems, successes, joys, failures, regrets etc. If you have ever vented to someone, then you know how therapeutic talking to someone can be.
5. I don’t need anyone in my business telling me how to live my life.
Therapists aren’t trying to get in your business or to tell you how to live your life. In fact, we’re positive that they have better things to do than order people around. They’re trying to help you live a more positive fulfilled life for you. I see a therapist once a week and they have never once told me how I should live my life.
Therapy is what you make it.
Ultimately, therapy does help people struggling with debilitating mental illness, and it also helps people whose biggest problem is how annoying their spouse was being that morning. Whatever is needed, that’s what therapy aims to provide. Thinking of treatment or help as something too extreme for you is simply untrue. Therapy is a tool for everyone, because you can always learn more about yourself and what you need. After six years of therapy, I still learn new things about myself. And learning these things is instrumental in my happiness, health, and personal growth.
You can use this tool to find therapists near you.
That’s all for today folks!
Until next time,
Ariana & Hannah