The Stigma of Therapy



I used to be one of those people–you know who I mean–the people who think that you only go to therapy if “something is WRONG with you.” The people who think that “mental health” is only important if you’re having suicidal or homicidal thoughts.


I’m so glad I’m not “one of those people” anymore. However, I AM broke–and sadly, to take care of ourselves mentally is significantly more expensive than taking care of ourselves physically. I can afford a gym membership, a massage, a whole grocery list full of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily vitamins, FREE birth control, and all of my yearly medical expenses, yet…I can’t afford to go to therapy as often as I’d like? THIS IS BULL. Insurance should cover this 100%…but that’s a separate blog post. This is not about that. Moving on.

I’ve always wanted to go to therapy–this mainly stemming from movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, where the character lies down on a couch and it all seems so…cool. But also, I always knew I’d have things to talk about–I’ve never considered myself perfect, I’ve never considered my childhood drama-free, I’ve never considered all of my relationships healthy…I wanted to talk about these things with a professional. If, for nothing else, just out of pure curiosity. What would they say? Would it be helpful at all? What would they write in my file?

Late last year, I finally made that leap. My life was a frenzy of stress and anxiety. I felt…helpless. So when a friend of mine started raving about her therapist (she was going through an ugly divorce), instead of just listening, I said, “Hey, can I get her name and contact info?”

It was great…and I mean GREAT. I should make it clear–when I said stress and anxiety, I literally meant stress and anxiety. That’s it–normal, extremely common feelings of stress and anxiety, weighing down on me. Life, career, family, friends, relationship…everyday stressful, anxiety-causing stuff. I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t want or need medication of any kind…I just needed to talk. And that’s the amazing thing about therapy–you’re talking to someone who a) isn’t biased b) has an education and work experience in psychology c) doesn’t treat you with pity or annoyance or judgment and d) isn’t tired of hearing you talk about a subject, like some of your friends or family members might be.

These people listen WHOLEHEARTEDLY and give fantastic advice for a freakin’ living. They are basically YOURS for an entire hour, completely tuned in to your wants and needs and thoughts and emotions and rants and frustrations and…need I go on?

Granted, you may need to search for a therapist whose personality fits what you’re looking for. Not everyone will be as lucky as me (my therapist looks sweet and innocent, but has a mouth like a sailor when need be and doesn’t take anyone’s shit…I adore her). After my first session with her, I felt immensely better about my situation–not just because she listened, but she also gave me some things to think about that no one else had even thought of. My swimming, muddled mind was, for the first time in months, clear.

Let me wrap this up before this turns into a novel-sized stream of conscious on the benefits of therapy.

  1. If you’ve never been, you should! It’s pretty awesome sauce and can truly help with any issue that’s itching at you, big or small…
  2. DON’T FREAKING JUDGE PEOPLE FOR GOING…that just means they take their mental health seriously, which is super mature, proactive, and beneficial to them and everyone around them. It’s 2015. Don’t be “one of those people.”

11 responses »

  1. I don’t think people go to therapy as much in the UK as in the US, unless they’re referred to it by a psychiatrist or psychologist. That’s a shame. I think most of us would benefit from one-to-one sessions of this kind to help sort us out, as there is hardly a person in the world devoid of issues.

  2. A friend who’s a clinical psychologist here in the UK told me all therapists have to have therapy. Which I found oddly comforting – taking care of themselves so to be better able to assist others. Wish doctors would do the same! I tried some therapy through a work related scheme a while ago – no reason, rather like you, just general everyday wear and tear – and it was thought provoking and comforting. Since I retired the day job I’ve not gone back but I’d never poo poo anyone who wanted to try it. Oh and nice to meet you and thanks for the follow!!!

  3. I hate that stigma. I went to therapy when I was younger and I hated it honestly. But when my boyfriend started having sleep apnea and night terror I brought up seeing a doctor or psychiatrist. And he said it was embarrassing. It’s a freaking medical condition that can slowly kill you? You know what’s really embarrassing? Dying! We should be able to take care of ourselves body and soul without judgment. And yes, insurance should seriously cover this.

  4. Yes, a thousand times YES!! And anyone who reads this and understands it is not a stigma will still think it is and worse, almost look down on you like some crazy person.
    I always say this, “Everyone has something a little “off” about them, but the brave ones are the ones willing to confront there problems and get them fixed.” I just wrote about this last week about how “mental illness” is a loose term and how it can’t be escaped – not because it can’t be fixed, but because people see you as hopeless due to that stigma.

  5. I probably need therapy more now that when I used to go when I was young. I just thought it would be cool to unload all the stuff I had been carrying around in my 25 years at the time, but once there realized I did not want to share all the weird goings on in my family so it didn’t help me that much. Besides you better have a good therapist, or it can actually work against you. My husband and I went to a young woman therapist who was openly hostile to me for no good reason and my husband spoke up and told her as much one day. Needless to say we got a new therapist because that one was flat out disturbed.

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