Updated: Jan 17
I think the general public is starting to believe that therapy is important. If we look at therapy with broad strokes, generationally, I think Baby Boomers see therapy as a thing that other people use when they’re really not doing well. Gen X, I imagine, could see going to therapy when they themselves are severely struggling. Millennials seem to be coming around to the idea of using therapy for general upkeep. Gen Z seem to have less and less of an issue actually promoting the use of therapy. These are incredibly large generalizations. Maybe it’s because of the social media echo chamber that I’m exposed is primarily young people talking about therapy the way wealthy ‘neurotics’ talked about seeing their analysts in the ‘70s, but it seems like that oft sought after lowered stigma is on the horizon.
This is all to say, we still tend to be raised on negative assumptions about therapy. The kid who is sent to therapy is doing so poorly— and then your little brain thinks I’m not doing that badly, I’m not like them, I don’t need that. Others speak in hushed tones when they discuss that family in therapy. It’s a shame what happened to them. It’s a shame that they have to pay someone to cobble them back together. It’s shameful. Shame gets hidden and buried and we walk around with automatic thoughts or repressed feelings around every little thing that we learned could be attached to that shame.
Something that’s getting talked about right now is that kids are missing out on the social/emotional aspect of school if they are using virtual learning. School was useful in that we have to learn to navigate the social world and how it interacts with our own emotions, but many times, we are faced with situations that have one meaning at a young age and a totally different meaning when we’re older. If we’re really lucky, someone is around to help guide us through processing those emotions in our youth. Why is therapy important? Someone can help us process our life’s experience at the stage of life we reside. There’s one reason.
Therapy provides us skills that help us maneuver through life’s manure.
Coping and calming skills are a clear benefit of therapy. Not all therapists practice in such a way that they provide clear mindfulness based-skills, but it seems like many are able to pull a few out of their back pocket when the need arises. If all you get out of therapy is the ability to stop and ground yourself when you feel yourself ramping up, you got your money’s worth. These skills can ultimately aid in the relief of physiological symptoms as they are often body-based. That’s another hash mark in the therapy column.
Since its inception, psychotherapy has been about raising one’s awareness around the ways that they interact with themselves, their life (past, present, and future) and their relationships. Following the building of this insight, clients are better able to manage the way they have adapted to their life both emotionally and sometimes physically.
Having insight about yourself increases the likelihood of changing behavior you may find troublesome. As an added bonus, because you’ve learned how to be insightful, you have most likely sharpened your analytical skills. With these wise eyes, you may be able to navigate both your reaction to yourself and your environment as well as relational issues with an increased efficiency and effectiveness.
Understanding more about yourself and your reactions can lead to an expansion in relational intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Good therapy has the ability to keep you curious. The curious cat is able to peek around all of the corners of its surroundings and make its way without judgement. And that’s all that happens to the cat. Nothing else happens to a curious cat.
This openness that insight and curiosity provide allows you to set healthful boundaries, and engage compassionately with yourself and others.
Why is this important? I’m a Mr. Roger’s gal. I place a high value on kindness, I don’t know about you.
It’s also a cool idea to get to the point where you’re not walking around feeling like everyone’s judging you.
or feeling like you’re carrying everyone’s responsibilities on your shoulders,
or harboring deep shame about something that happened when you were seven, but no big deal, it literally never comes up,
or feeling overwhelmed with the amount of bullshit you come across regularly,
or having difficulty expressing yourself which could be leading you down the road of hypertension,
or have the ability to allow all of these thoughts to pass through your mind and tolerate them.
Any of this. It’s all important or none of it is important. Regardless, we continue to spin on this rock around a bright, hot, star in a seemingly infinite expanding universe. Make your own meaning. (Hey! Meaning-making! That’s another one!).
Want to start boosting insight, make meaning and treating yourself compassionately? Give me a shout.