One of the most common reasons why clients I see in my clinical practice resist coming in for treatment for many months, or even years, before we meet is because they think that “strong” people shouldn’t need therapy. They feel that it is a sign of weakness to seek help. Many of my potential clients fear being labeled as “crazy” or “insane” if word were to get out that they are coming in to see me for counseling. The sad reality is that there are people around us that judge those who choose seek professional support for issues related to their mental health, but in my opinion having the self-awareness and insight to know when you need assistance is a strength. Below are a few of the reasons why seeing a therapist shows strength:
1. Your health is important: According to the World Health Organization “mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health”. Prioritizing your mental and emotional health means that you are taking good care of yourself in your entirety, and there is no shame in that. The mind-body connection is very real and this makes it essential that we all care for each component equally. Realizing that in order to care for your body, you must care for your mind as well, is an important step towards optimizing your overall health.
2. It demonstrates good insight: Being insightful enough to realize when we need professional support is not easy to achieve. However it developed, the ability and self-awareness to do so is definitely strength. It takes courage to look inward and ask yourself how you’re feeling and if you can manage your current struggles on your own. It’s even harder to acknowledge that the answer might be “no” and that you’re in need of added support. Having the strength to go through that process and reach out for help takes bravery and is an essential step towards improving your mental health.
3. It’s good self-care: Somehow, the image of a person practicing self-care makes many people picture a woman in a pedicure seat or a man hanging at a bar with his friends. And while leisure time and pampering oneself are very important, self-care comes in other forms as well. I always remind my clients that by coming in to see me, they are practicing self-care because they are taking the time that they need to prioritize themselves and their mental health. As difficult as it can be to set aside the time for yourself, doing so is not only helpful to you but to others in your life who rely on you. The time spent in a therapy session can be rejuvenating and can make it a little easier to move ahead with whatever other responsibilities and tasks that lie ahead.
4. It can be productive: One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is that they fear spending an hour in session “just talking” when they could be crossing things off of their to-do lists. There are many therapeutic modalities out there and some are really helpful for people in setting achievable goals and in taking steps required to accomplish them. Discussions about realistic goals, self-motivation strategies, prioritizing tasks, organizing ourselves and managing anxiety related to too many tasks or responsibilities are all issues that can be addressed effectively in therapy.
A lot of the time, the clients who initially resisted treatment end up recommending it to their friends and family once they realize how different it from what they had imagined. Therapy is flexible and can be whatever you need it to be. Each therapist has a different style and approach and so it’s important for clients to ask questions to ensure that the one that they choose is the right fit. Once you find the therapist that best meets your needs, you’re sure to succeed in your therapeutic goals.