Think about the first time you were introduced to the concept of “therapy.” Right outta the gate, the idea of it just seems kinda weird. Formal. Even feels a little icky. For a many reasons probably.
I’ve got a list. And not just sarcasm I’ve gathered from resistant teens over the years, mandated by mom and dad to come see me. It’s something I had to wrestle with before receiving counsel myself. I’ll get into all of that in future posts, but for now here are 5 common barriers that we need to help our clients overcome:
- You must be really messed up in order to need help.
- Only a hopeless nitwit would ever need to talk with someone about their problems.
- It’s too old fashioned and outdated; just look online for your answers.
- Suck it up.
- We’re just fine and we’re comfortable with the way things are, thank you very much.
There’s more, but let me keep it short and respond to those reasons:
- (*you must be really messed up) Well, actually I agree with this one. But, let’s define “messed up.” Since I’m writing this as we go, let’s just take the opposite of messed up. Non-messy. Clean. Who is clean? Like, no dirt. Perfect. We all have blindspots that need attention. Like, active blind spots right now that everyone probably notices. It’s shaping our life, business, promotions at work, romantic relationships, our children, our social life. Your roommate totally notices. Boss. Coworker. Spouse. Friends. Sister. Brother. Girlfriend. Boyfriend. The person sitting on the bus across from you, the barista taking your order, the cashier at Best Buy. These are areas in your daily life, the way you talk and what you talk about and how loud or soft you say it, frequent or limited, relationships, routines, habits, etc. Those pieces of your nature, that have stopped serving you adaptively, now hold you back from really connecting with and enjoying others, and them enjoying you (bummer!!!). Everyone could clean up their game in that sense. Therapy is for messed up people.
- (*help is for losers) Actually, the wisest things to do is ask for help. Ask any professional athlete, academic, musician, public speaker, artist of any kind, really anyone who wishes to perform or function at a level beyond the status quo. When the caliber of performance increases, so do our help-seeking behaviors.
- (*look online) Hmm… well I guess, in the name of self-preservation (aka I want people to read this blog that exists online), as a source of online support, I’d say that yes there is some value in leveraging technology and the oceans of information available to us in this modern age. But, information alone can’t save us. Think about all we know about exercise, nutrition, the environment, education, parenting, public health, friendship, being kind, all of that stuff. Yet, we still fail. We still need help. There’s something about having a real person, sitting beside you, cheering you on without judgement or condemnation, completely open to hearing you out, but also absolutely committed to telling you what you need to hear. That’s the key essential non-negotiable therapeutic component that Google and information struggle to produce. *(but hey Google I’m open to it so maybe let’s collab sometime?)
- (*suck it up) This is a tough one. Especially if it’s what you grew up on. The message is, “you’re in this alone. and you gotta work yourself out of the mess you’re in.” It’s actually quite self-centered. “My only hope is me and my circle of friends.” It could be a real lonely place to be. When people suspend that idea for a season and explore third-party sources of interpersonal feedback, hope, guidance, reflection, and ways of being, things start changing pretty quick, for the better (if you pilot the mindset we agreed on in #2 of course).
- (*we’re just fine…) This is 99% of the U.S. We’re just fine. Nothing to see here. Nope. We’re cool with the way things are. It’s actually a real stretch to make a case against this one. But, I’ll try. Chances are, your life is just fine. And it’ll probably stay that way. But, most likely, if we just sit together for a little while, just us, or with people who care about you, or with a group of total strangers (I’m talking about group therapy options, I’ve done this and it’s awesome), you’ll get this special peek behind the curtain of your life, and you’ll want more. And more. You won’t wanna go back. You wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world. And before you know it, you’re like, different. New. Alive. Something new about you man, can’t put my finger on it but yeah it’s cool and I like it… Or they might just tell you straight up, “Hey I used to dread talking with you because you always just talked about yourself, but hey now I really appreciate when you ask me about how I’m doing. Wanna hang out this weekend?”
Congrats and thank you for reading this far!!!! A main message I must get out there is everyone could benefit from receiving help in some way. And just to be clear, therapy isn’t a place or a building, it’s a relationship.
It’s less like meeting with the principal and more like meeting with a trusted friend. And almost ANYONE can provide these therapeutic components. And you don’t need to have it all together before you can provide a helpful response to the person sitting next to you. Seriously, that’s good news. Sweet news.
Have you ever heard these lyrics from Huey Lewis and the News?
Don’t need money, don’t take fame
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
That’s the power of love
Doesn’t take a degree or a license or a certificate to help a brother or sister out. It actually just takes you 🙂
That’s the power of love!!!
So, go on ahead and be a wonderful counselor, TODAY!
What about you? What are common barriers or misconceptions about therapy you’ve experienced, either in your own practice or life? Leave a comment or send a message. I’d love to hear from you!