Our mental health has a profound impact on our lives. In fact, there isn’t one aspect of our life that goes untouched by how we are doing mentally. I am sure you could name more general areas of life affected by mental health, but here are a few that come to mind; family relationships, friendships, work relationships, how we respond to our kiddos and our pets, how we prioritize our physical health and hygiene. It even affects how we view ourselves, how well we concentrate, our capacity to experience pleasure, our values, and biases…the list could go on and on…and it does!
Mental health has long been stigmatized or only reserved for the most severely ill, or those who experience a significant decrease in functioning, for example, those who aren’t able to manage responsibilities, relationships, or even get out of bed in the morning.
Truthfully, EVERYONE can surely benefit from therapy.
We are charged with the task of looking into the dark spaces in our lives and confronting our own hurt, pain, and burdens, even the ones we are unaware that we carry. Would you believe that it is fair to say that our grandparent’s mental health and even our great-grandparent’s mental health contributed to our own, right here in 2021?
Well buckle up buttercup, it is absolutely true!
Some may say I am biased about all this therapy business because I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. But I’d like to reframe that thought.
I would say that I have worked with several clients in several different settings from outpatient office settings to acute and residential care settings, and most concerns that clients have are related to very common human experiences that occur because we live in a broken world. I will note that these experiences may vary in degree or intensity, but are all closely aligned or are a product of similar roots.
So, let’s say you take the plunge into therapy. Here is something you may begin to experience. An observation I’ve made with clients is a decreased capacity for surface-level relationships. When we start to do the work within ourselves, we learn the old games we “played” to keep ourselves safe in relationships no longer work. This causes us to increase our capacity for self-acceptance and self-compassion.
When people learn that no feeling is bad, (yes, I’ll repeat that, NO FEELING IS BAD, they just are) then the more we can hold space for ourselves and the uncomfortable feelings, and the more we can learn to do that for others so that no one has to fake the funk or put on airs. (Insert sigh of relief here.) We are all worth being known.
Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in if everyone had the capacity to be their authentic self and be real about their insecurities, worries, fears, or even the things that make them unique and special, like favorite or even quirky hobbies? I’m sure social media would look very different. But better than that, all the above-mentioned general areas of life would look very different, and healthier as well.
Here are a few tips I give new clients, friends, or family that ask me about starting therapy.
Tip #1: Absolutely have initial phone consultations with a potential therapist.
During these consultations ask questions about the therapist’s specialties, accepted insurance, and specific experience working with your demographic. (I’m looking at you anyone who is not a straight cis-gendered white male.) And before anyone gets mad, no I’m not a part of the woman, he man-hater club. I just mean to say make sure your therapist has experience working with your unique experiences. Don’t @ me 🙂
Tip#2: Inquire about your potential therapist’s philosophy of therapy and what type of style they gravitate towards using with their clients.
It is important to note, some clinicians are more organic in terms of therapy, and some are more structured.
Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to fire your therapist!
We don’t take it personally. If it isn’t a good fit, the therapist’s priority should be for you to find the right fit with another therapist.
We truly have a duty to prioritize our mental health, if not for ourselves then for future generations. How you choose to prioritize or neglect your mental health impacts you, your kids, your grandkids, and so on, for generations to come. Let’s be brave and set them up for success by helping ourselves today.