I’m all about breaking stereotypes and reducing stigma. I’ve often run into many of these in my line of business. As a therapist working with some of the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in society I feel an obligation to debunk stereotypes that have held people back from seeking help and judging others. For now, I will address the stigma around therapy.
When I tell people that I’m a therapist/counsellor I usually get a couple of different reactions. One stereotype that abounds is that I deal with “crazy people” and I work like the psychotherapist in the “Sopranos”. Another thing that happens is people start to tell me about “their friend” who is having problems but doesn’t think it requires a therapist because their problems are that of “normal people’s problems”. This could not be farther from the truth. It is true that for over 8 years I worked with people who had a psychiatric diagnosis, but this was within a mental health agency. Throughout the last 13 years or so I worked on and off with everyday people who were having some issues with everyday life, and the stress that accompanies it.
The truth is that we should view therapy/counselling as you would any other professional you would consult when you need guidance or help with something, in this case something that is troubling you mentally. You would go to a mechanic if your car is broken down, and you go to see a doctor if you don’t feel well, you probably don’t cut your own hair either. Well a counsellor/therapist is a professional that helps you sort through life’s issues when you are having difficulty doing so for yourself, or if you know something in your life needs to change but you can’t put your finger on it or you don’t know how to go through the change yourself.
Stress for example is the basis for many psychological and physical ailments. If you seek out help when some aspect of your life is not working as you would like and you are feeling stress over a matter of time, then you should seek help before things escalate out of control. Being in good mental health is extremely important because without it the rest of your life will be affected.