Deserving Therapy

Do you need a specific reason to go to therapy?

The answer might surprise you.

We all have those wonderful friends. You know, the ones you won’t see for weeks or months but still make you feel like not a day has passed since your last reunion? Several months ago, a college friend and I finally nailed down a specific date and time to meet. It was a miracle with our hectic lives. As if on the brink of bursting, we collapsed in our café chairs and immediately fell into a familiar routine of chatter the moment we saw each other. Who are you dating these days? How’s work? Remember the time we…? (-ahem- insert embarrassing memory here)

As we reminisced and bantered, she disclosed several life changes: from a new, less-than-ideal boss to a series of failed, underwhelming dates. She sighed, gazed into her empty tea mug as if its mucky leaves would reveal some mysterious answers, and said, “I’m just really…down.” She sighed again, this time with a laugh and a dismissive shrug. “It’s not so bad most of the time. It’d be nice to talk to someone, I guess, but it’s not like I need therapy. I didn’t get a divorce. I didn’t lose someone close to me. I think I just need to get over it.”

My friend felt stuck, and for her, stuck did not warrant therapeutic intervention the way depression or grief did.

When did we decide that you’re only allowed to ask for help when you meet a certain criteria? Why can’t we just give ourselves permission to need a helping hand without proving its necessity or apologizing for it?

I want to challenge the unhelpful notion that the perfect time for therapy is when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan and instead posit that therapy is most effective when you’re ready to accept it, however that may look for you. It might be the moment you start to feel off, and it might be the moment the dust begins to settle.

Therapy is not merely a process of releasing, but a productive exchange. We envision old school free-association, but modern day therapy does not involve a couch-bed and an old, frizzy white-haired man taking notes from across the room. It’s an active, deep, and ongoing conversation, thus requiring a level of insight and balance to adequately reap its benefits. The clarity and emotion regulation you have right now in this very moment might actually put you in the perfect position for therapy intervention.

Additionally, I want to challenge the idea that a specific event or problem has to bring you into therapy. It could be a recurring theme in your life. It could be a relationship pattern that appears over and over. It could be a funny feeling that just won’t go away.

Your therapy process belongs to you, and the best part of therapy is that it is a person-to-person exchange happening in real time. So if you find yourself feeling unassertive with your friends, at work, and in your relationship, you can try on a new, assertive approach to interacting with others in a safe space. In other words, therapy can be the perfect laboratory for your own emotional and interpersonal experimentation.

To reiterate the words I shared with my friend, feeling stuck is as good a reason as any to ask for support.

About the Author
Megha Pulianda

Megha Pulianda

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I am a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern (LPC-I) under the supervision of Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S. I research trauma psychology while pursuing my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Texas Woman’s University. Additionally, I enjoy being a regular blog contributor for Psychology Today where I write about the different experiences of millennials in therapy. I received my B.A. in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and my M.S. in Counseling at Southern Methodist University. I have worked in private practice, community mental health, and hospital settings. I have experience in individual, couples, group, and family therapy.

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