I was at dinner the other night with my daughter when she decided to ask our server his opinion on therapy. I fully expected him to scoff, which I just know was going to upset my dinner as I would feel obligated to set down my fork and attempt to educate our server on the positive benefits of therapy. As I was silently rolling my eyes (internally) at my lovely daughter, I waited for his answer.
And then it came.
Our server calmly related to us that it is his opinion that only people who have “major problems” seek out therapy. He went on to say that he didn’t want to feel like seeing a therapist meant that he had a major problem or worse yet, he would find out he has bigger problems than he thought. Who would be comfortable with therapy if it might mean the same thing about them? He quietly ended by saying “it would be nice to have someone to talk to though.”
At some point while he was talking, I found I had in fact set down my fork, but I was listening intently, not to respond but really hearing his message. I felt a bit of shock to be honest, despite always telling people that I’ve met that I believe everyone could benefit from therapy. It became clear to me that maybe just saying “everyone could use therapy” is not enough.
There it was, stigma, mixed with longing, envy and some serious misinformation about what therapy is and who it can help. I thought to myself, this is fixable! As we left dinner, I made sure to leave my card, hoping at the very least that it will encourage him to reach out if he felt the need to talk, it doesn’t even need to be me he talks to.
People! You do NOT have to have a major problem to seek out counseling. Seeking counseling certainly does not mean that something major is wrong with you. We all need someone to talk to. We all have struggled with something in our lives at some point or another. Too often we stuff down our emotions or frustrations so we don’t “bother” others or we may think what we are going through is trivial. You may think you “should” be able to just deal with it on your own. Find a therapist and talk about anything that is weighing on you; no matter if it is a need to help solve a problem, anxiety, depression, or a severe mental illness. A therapist can provide an objective, non-judgmental, and safe environment for you to find clarity and calm, or anything else you may be seeking.
I am going to challenge you to take a few minutes and take a personal inventory. If you are able to identify that it would be “nice to talk to someone” about a problem you are having, then reach out. If you are lucky and do not have something to talk about, then maybe someone you know might benefit. Pass this information along to them.
Rachel Firneno, LPC
HM Counseling Services, PLLC