Like most people, I am an avid podcast listener. A year ago, I stumbled upon a podcast called “Psychology in Seattle,” and it changed my life. “Psychology in Seattle” is hosted by a therapist and psychology professor Dr. Kirk Honda. His podcasts cover a range of complex psychological topics, such as family systems theory and attachment styles, to more lighthearted topics, such as psychological assessments of TV show characters. When I first started listening to his podcasts, I had an elementary understanding of the purpose of therapy and what it entails.
I thought that therapy was only meant for people with mental illness, and after a certain amount of time, the patient would be ‘fixed.’ Due to the social stigma around mental health, I think most of us share the same misconception around therapy that I had. I quickly realized that I was seriously mistaken and that I myself needed therapy. As a matter of fact, we all desperately need therapy—even the ‘not broken’ people. This includes the ones not struggling with mental illness, the ones who had a happy childhood, the ones who did not come from a broken home, etc. It does not matter who you are: YOU need therapy.
From infancy to early childhood, every one of us develops defense mechanisms to ease ourselves in stressful situations and maintain our emotional wellbeing. These stressful situations entail being hungry, thirsty or cold without our caretakers attending to us. As babies, we are incapable of taking care of ourselves; therefore, we cry for help and develop ways to comfort ourselves. These unconscious defense mechanisms, combined with our parents’ parenting styles, help shape our attachment style. Almost every aspect of your personality can be traced back to attachment theory. It can explain our behaviors, interactions, relationships, attitudes, preferences, personality disorders, etc.
Often times, we go through life without understanding our attachment styles and how it contributes to our unhappiness. Therapy enters as a solution by offering a judgment-free zone for individuals to be vulnerable. While talking to your friends and family can be helpful, seeking help from a licensed professional is markedly different. Friends and family will likely give you biased advice while professionals are trained to remain differentiated in their work with clients.
Therapy is for everyone at every phase of your life. Many people don’t realize this, but you don’t need to be in a crisis to seek therapy. If you are going through a challenging period in your life, it is obvious how therapy can be beneficial. However, it can be beneficial even when you have no discernable reason to seek help. A therapy session is a place for introspection, and with the help of a trained professional, it can give you a new perspective on your life and your relationships. It can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms so when you inevitably enter difficult periods in your life, you have the necessary means to get through it. Mental health is a timely and relevant issue. Yet, because it is invisible to the naked eye, it is not given the importance that it desperately deserves. In the most sincere way, I am asking you to go to therapy because you deserve it.