It usually sounds something like this:
“I’m having a hard time….BUT IT’S NOT SO BAD THAT I NEED THERAPY.”
Deciding to get help is a big deal, but you don’t have to be going through a crisis to seek therapy. Therapy is not reserved for those with severe psychiatric diagnoses. In fact, many people who seek therapy have natural emotional reactions to the things going on in their lives.
People also seem to think of psychiatric diagnoses with a lot of negativity.
I hear people talk about stress or health conditions or not getting enough sleep and then say something like, “It’s not anxiety” as though a diagnosis of anxiety is some sort of death sentence. And, granted, it may not be “anxiety”…but if it is, that’s okay! There are so many ways to treat anxiety.
Therapy is a place where you can talk to someone who has no opinion on what you should do with your life. A good therapist does not judge you and listens warmly and empathically. You won’t hear many clichés like “just don’t worry about it” or “just focus on the positive.” A good therapist will likely not suggest what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do.
In therapy, you can learn skills to manage uncomfortable feelings or navigate difficult relationships. You can develop new perspectives to help you feel differently about yourself and the world around you.
I like to use a flashlight metaphor to identify the typical difference between a friend and therapist. If you are standing in the middle of a very dark forest with an infinite amount of roads, a friend may point you in the “right” direction or take you by the hand and show you the way. A therapist, on the other hand, will shine a flashlight down every path. Together, you will notice advantages of some paths and disadvantages of others. You may acknowledge frightening things and then plan on how to deal with them if you choose that path. At some point, you choose a path. If you wish, your therapist can walk with you while continuing to shine the flashlight. As you may imagine, the metaphor can go in many different directions.
The next time you try to argue yourself out of therapy by saying “it’s not that serious” or “this is normal” or something else that implies you should be able to handle life on your own, considering calling a therapist.