Therapy—some swear by it, some consider it taboo. While I personally have never fallen into either of these categories, I can say with certainty that my perspective on the matter has changed in recent months. Growing up, I knew of physical therapy from friends who played sports and were prone to injuries, as well as speech therapy, in which my younger sister participated weekly to improve her annunciation. In high school, I knew of the guidance counselors who made themselves available for assistance in the college application and decision-making process—my guidance counselor got to know me very personally during my junior and senior years as I happen to be an extremely indecisive individual. Yet, despite being surrounded by these various types of counselors, I never considered seeing a therapist for the purpose of taking care of my mental health.
Looking back, I think I believed that therapy was only available for those who needed it and that there was a specific type of person who fits into that category, myself not being one of them. I was aware of the stress I experienced from school and the occasional struggles in my relationships with those around me, but I didn’t consider my challenges significant enough to seek out professional assistance. I now see the flaws in this mindset which I carried for so many years. The wonderful thing about therapists is that they are willing and able to help unpack anything their clients are struggling with, even if some things seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I clearly remember making the decision to see a therapist during the beginning of my second semester here at Colby. Although I was enjoying my time on campus and succeeding academically, I knew I wasn’t as happy as I could be. After coming to the realization that I was not entirely satisfied with my current college experience, I knew there were some changes I could make to allow myself the happiness I deserve. However, I got stuck while trying to formulate a plan to put said changes into motion. The first person I mentioned this to was one of my dearest friends from home, someone I trust completely and feel confident and comfortable confiding in. She described to me her experience seeing a therapist at school, from prioritizing counseling appointments in her busy academic schedule to finding the right therapist for her needs and preferences. Having the opportunity to discuss this process with her was extremely helpful in allowing me to make the best decision for myself.
Currently, I am in my fourth month of counseling. It is still a new experience for me, and in all honesty, it sometimes feels strange and uncomfortable. I believe this feeling of mild discomfort stems from the fact that I’ve never had the opportunity to unpack my thoughts and emotions in the way that I am now able to. While I have a strong support system of loving friends and family, all of whom I appreciate and know I can turn to for guidance, I realized the value of speaking to a professional who can provide insightful, unbiased advice. As someone who struggles to make decisions and overthinks everything—seriously, I will spend 20 minutes choosing an ice cream flavor because I have to weigh the pros and cons of each—it has proven immensely beneficial to have a designated person to help organize my thoughts and intentions. In my short time working with a counselor at Colby, I have come to many realizations in terms of making the best decisions for myself, which I may not have otherwise discovered. I also feel much more in control of reaching my goals with the help I have received in laying out step-by-step plans for myself.
In conclusion, it is okay to be hesitant or even afraid of seeking help. Society trains us to be strong, independent individuals; however, it takes much more strength to ask for help when it is needed and to acknowledge that we are all deserving of happiness. I still have so much more to figure out in my own personal experience with therapy. I recognize there will be bumps along the way, but I feel much better knowing that I made the best decision I could. If you or anyone you know is considering seeking assistance, please see the below resources. Support is always available, even when it feels out of reach.
Contact Counseling Services at Colby (free to all students)
Maine Statewide Crisis Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
More resources can be found here.