I am a walking contradiction. I have a therapist license, and yet I have been (and am currently going through) my own therapy. This is something I've heard from dozens of my colleagues, and I am here to tell you that everyone and their mother needs a therapist.
No, I am not pitching this idea so the mental health field will get a surge of clientele, but rather because it's simply the truth. I have been on both sides of the therapeutic circle, and even though I was driven to this field because I wanted to help people, there is nothing like being the client and having someone so entirely devoted to helping you.
1. You'll never have a relationship like the one you have with a therapist.
Many of you reading this will think you don't need a therapist because you have friends, your mom, your sister, a significant other, etc. Yes, I have many of those wonderful people in my life, as well, but none of them have ever come close to the relationship I have with my therapist.
Being in therapy is like being in a one-sided relationship where everything is centered around you, and you always get to pick what to watch on TV. Therapists are there to take in what you throw at them and help you make sense of who you are. The entire hour is about you. You're talking about what you think, how you feel, what you want and processing all of this without someone getting bored or complaining you're too needy.
2. You'll learn how to trust.
When I was in grad school, one of the first things they taught us was how important is it to build rapport with a new client so that he or she trusts you. Let's be honest: There are few things that are as odd as walking in and sharing your deepest darkest secrets with an absolute stranger, and therapists know this.
Therapists (the good ones, at least) try very hard to always keep this in mind, and there is nothing more humbling than when someone chooses to share a piece of their life with you. These people sitting across from you have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping you make sense of yours, and their accepting attitudes and desire to help are a reminder that people are compassionate and worthy of your trust.
3. Life is hard.
I don't care what side of the tracks you're from, how many times you've had your heart broken or what your daily stressors look like — life is hard for all of us. There might be a catalytic event, or maybe it's a lifelong persistent problem you want to change. Whatever the circumstances, there are countless reasons for wanting to sit in the therapy chair (and yes, it is often a chair and not a couch) and every single reason is valid.
You should never let someone tell you your problems are silly or not real, or that you have an easy life because no one other than you knows what is really going on behind the scenes. Some of us who look like we have it all on the outside are actually the ones who are in the need of the most help.
4. Therapists will help you see things you otherwise would not.
When you first begin your relationship with a therapist, they know only the things you tell them. They're looking at you and your life experiences with fresh eyes, which is something we, and those who are close to us, can never do.
They'll point out observations, reframe your thoughts and praise you for things you never thought were anything special. They'll see you as the authentic person who sits across from them week to week with empathetic eyes.
If you want to get the most out of therapy, you can't hold back who you are. You need to be honest and forthcoming with information and what you want to work on. While they will see things you won't explicitly say, therapists are not mind readers. For you both to get the most of of that hour, it really is best to be as authentic as possible.
5. Therapists have your best interest at heart, and thrive when you shine.
There are certain moments therapists live for, and they're often called "a ha," or "lightbulb" moments. These are the moments when a client realizes something that is earth-shattering, but in a good way.
Maybe you finally recognize you give too much of yourself to others without demanding it in return, or that you repeat unhealthy patterns you picked up early in your life. Whatever it is (you'll know it when it happens), there's no denying the shift in the room or the tears of relief flooding your smiling face. Those are the moments therapists live for.
They come to work every single day, listening to people day in and day out all for that one moment when a client finally recognizes their self-worth and lovingly accepts who they are. I've been lucky enough to experience this on both sides, and it feels just as good (maybe even better) to watch someone else experience the flip of the switch.
Whether you go once a week, once a month or every single day, being in therapy can and will help you. If nothing else, it will allow you a safe space to unload your sh*t and be yourself without being judged for it.
So please, take your preconceived notions about seeing a "shrink" and toss them out the window. The stigma surrounding mental health is finally breaking down, and it's time for you to experience the gift of therapy.