Let’s Destigmatize Therapy

I’ve been going to therapy for about five years now, but I’ve only very recently started to remove the shame from it. I think everyone should do this, and I’m going to tell you why. 

When people think about therapy, I feel like they tend to gravitate towards the popular image of laying back on a lounge chair while you overpay someone to listen to your traumatic childhood events. This admittedly does not sound like a great time, so I can understand why people would be turned off by the idea of therapy if they think it resembles that. I have some good news though—it’s nothing like the movies make it out to be. For starters, there are many different kinds of therapy, such as dialectical therapy, behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, and many more. This variety allows you to find something that best suits you and your needs, and if you’re unsure of which one to choose, your family doctor may be able to recommend one for you. 

Another common reason people are wary of therapy is the concept of talking to a stranger, and I get that. Baring your heart and being vulnerable in front of someone you barely know is intimidating, which is why the process of finding a therapist you feel comfortable around is so important. If you’re anything like me, you may go through a multitude of first sessions with several different therapists before you find someone you click with and, while this sounds like a lot of work, it is most certainly worth it. The therapist I finally ended up settling with is incredibly kind, understanding, and informative. Speaking with her feels like speaking with a friend; I trust her and feel absolutely no judgement in our sessions, and I hope that everyone may find someone like her. 

Another common misconception about therapists is that they just sit there and listen to you talk about your problems. While being a good listener is definitely a good trait to have as a therapist, that’s not where their job ends. Therapists provide valuable information such methods of coping, strategies for managing your emotions, and tools to help you step outside your comfort zone. Gaining this knowledge gives you the agency to help yourself in future situations when you feel stressed or overwhelmed and is one of the many reasons why therapy is so empowering. 

While therapy is incredibly helpful for people with mental health problems, there is a prominent stigma that therapy is only for people diagnosed with a mental illness. Let’s clear things up: Everyone experiences sadness, stress, and traumatic experiences, and these are the very things therapy was designed to help with. If you have a cold, you go to the doctor so they can help you feel better—it’s the same with therapy. Going to therapy doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you, it just means that you happen to be having a hard time and need some assistance getting over this particular bump in the road. 

At the end of the day, life can be hard. It’s okay to ask for help. Actually, it’s more than okay; it’s brave and responsible. Going to therapy shows that you are actively trying to take care of your mental health. Be proud and take care of yourself, or—better yet—be proud that you are taking care of yourself