One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy or counselling is that you need to have something really wrong with you to go. That’s not true at all! In fact, therapy can be incredibly helpful even if you don’t have a specific, pressing mental health concern. A lot of stigma around therapy comes from the (false) implication something is “wrong” with people who go. This can make therapy harder to access and more difficult to talk about. It also means many people feel they don’t have it “bad enough” to warrant them seeking therapy. When actually, you have emotions, so you are a valid candidate for therapy!
I have been to therapy for several stints in the past. The first time I went was as a child, and it was to focus on a couple specific mental health challenges. It ended up being really effective to target these. However, my appointments also served as a check in for my life in general, away from school, family and friends. This was a great way to work through any concerns that came up in my life, even though they weren’t directly related to my original reason for going to therapy.
More recently, I was seeing a therapist more casually. Even though I didn’t really have a specific reason to talk to her, she helped me think through what I was hoping to get out of the appointments. I realised I am a verbal processor (my flatmates know I love to come home and chat away about my day), and having an objective person to talk to was really nice. I was able to identify some things that cause my anxiety to spike and started to dig into some aspects of my life I didn’t even realise were bothering me. She also gave me some helpful tips I have been able to carry with me even though I’m not seeing her regularly anymore.
The vast majority of people I have talked to about their experiences with therapy have said it helped them. All these people have a range of mental health backgrounds, and therapy helped all of them. There is not a ranking of how entitled you are to therapy based on if you have a “problem” or not.
Note: I do want to acknowledge access to regular, quality mental health counselling is absolutely a privilege. I have been lucky to receive the support I have had, and often people don’t have the option to just pop in and see a therapist right away. Finding a therapist right for you can also take a while. Here are a few resources that may be helpful in starting the process.
A general guide on therapy from the NHS, including links to their free service
University of Aberdeen’s free counselling service
An option available online, and works on sliding scale for payment