Though it has dissipated in more recent history, there seems to remain a stigma for seeking therapy. The common misconception is that it’s for ‘crazy’ people who are incapable of dealing with reality. However, there are limitless reasons to seek counseling.
The majority of people who receive psychotherapy are experiencing a crisis: a life event has occurred and the individual is left with a feeling that this is more than they can handle…that’s it’s beyond their capacity to cope. I personally applaud those who acknowledge and act upon the reaction to how this event has affected them. A crisis can actually be used as an opportunity for change!
Here are a few common motivators for treatment:
- A major life event or transition: Marriage, divorce/break-up, health issue/disability, job loss, job change, financial crisis, child-rearing, empty nest, I could go on and on. What professional counseling provides is identifying personal control over what ‘feels’ out of control and utilizing healthier coping tools to maneuver through the experience.
- “I feel stuck”: This is commonly expressed to therapists. Frustration as to why someone keeps repeating the same pattern of reactions/behaviors/relationships/decisions/self-esteem issues. Counseling assists in identifying maladaptive patterns, uncovering the source, and creating new, healthier patterns to create change.
- Family issues: Expectations, rules, secrets, self-identity, culture clashes, helicopter parents, defiant teens. An objective professional assists clients in identifying personal responsibility/accountability, unhealthy alliances within a family, accepting life stages and personal development that allows freedom and acceptance within the family framework.
- Grief and Loss: A loss of a loved one – even a pet – can cause extreme distress and possibly lead to clinical depressions. Therapy assists in processing through the ongoing cycle of loss and change, finding support, creating new relationships, and honoring the loss of the loved one are all methods of coping with a different life.
- Anger issues: We live in a world of chaos that we cannot control. Anger is a secondary reaction to a deeper emotion that we ‘feel’ will never change – that we ‘can’t’ control. Therapy assists in identifying the underlying hurt and explores healthier outlets and communication tools to better respond to the chaos (both internally and externally).
- Clinical Depression and Anxiety. There is a difference between situational depression/anxiety and the physical/medical disorders that are organic within the brain. Diagnosing should always be received from a medical professional – specifically a Psychiatric Professional. With that clinical diagnosis, a licensed therapist provides treatment that assists the client in finding and utilizing healthy behaviors and supports that enhance the medical treatment (prescribed medication). Just taking a pill doesn’t fix the whole issue. It just adjusts the chemical imbalance in the brain. Therapy helps the client control how they respond to their diagnosis and how the diagnosis affects their functioning.
This is just a very small list, but it’s clear that counseling is a useful resource to manage our world. Typically, just making the decision to seek therapy is, in a sense, a crisis; a healthy, responsible motivation to bring about change and freedom.
The blog post was written by Kelly Morris, MAPC LPC