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I think you need to see a therapist

“I think you need to see a therapist!!!” It was one of those days in my happy married life where I was feeling quite smug with the thought that I had the upper hand in our usual domestic squabble, when my husband played this googly. “What? See a therapist? Me? Hello!! I am a Therapist; I don’t need to talk to anyone, there is nothing wrong with me”. Leaving me with this trail of thought, my husband left for work with a smug smile on his face making me realize that he too can play this game. Although his mission was accomplished and hubby dear had won the round, it made me wonder as to what is it about seeing a therapist that gives people the goose bumps. Why instead of thinking of them as angels (as I would love people to), they are perceived as witches or wizards on a broomstick?

Why does the prospect of seeing a therapist touch such a primal fear? Is it the fear of talking about your personal issues to an unknown person or is it the fear of facing the truth that things are ‘NOT OK’?

Whatever it may be, I now had to find out and got into heavy reading,and came up with some disturbing facts : World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that 20 % of India’s population will suffer from some form of mental illness by 2020; Studies indicate that women are 70% more likely to suffer from depression than men and out of 8 lakh suicide deaths globally in 2012, more than 2 lakh were in India. Further, I carried out an informal opinion survey to explore the common doubts or fears people have regarding mental health and people associated with them, which I would like to share.

  • I am afraid to talk about my feelings and problems / how can my problems be solved by just talking? –

Talking about our feelings has never been easy but talking helps in letting out pent up negative emotions like anger and frustration, a process called catharsis. Talking to an unknown trained person may help as he/she might be able to give you an unbiased opinion and guide you towards a solution. In counseling or therapy session the client is encouraged to be open and honest in a structured manner but is never rushed to do so. A client-therapist relationship is based on trust and understanding.

  • Only people who are really crazy seek help–

Unfortunately this myth still remains and somehow talking about our physical ailments is still more acceptable than talking about our emotional needs. It could be because of the sensational manner in which the entertainment media presents it. However, people who come for counseling range from taking advise on parenting, children’s academic issues, issues relating to a new job, adjustments after marriage (e.g., adjusting to the new defense environment), stress, anger etc.

  • I should be able to deal with my own thoughts and feelings and inability to do so is a sign of weakness–

Talking about problems is not a sign of weakness, it reflects courage and strength to face them and deal with them. All of us are equipped to deal with difficult situations. Throughout our lifespan, we are challenged by circumstances to redefine ourselves and our life’s goals. These situations can bring us to a place where we feel helpless and hopeless. What we have been doing doesn’t work anymore and we don’t know where to turn. That is a very good time to talk to a therapist who might help you focus on various other approaches to help yourself.

  • The therapist knows me or my friends and will tell others about me–

This is the most common fear. Confidentiality codes ensure that everything concerning the client remains safe from any exposure to a third party (except those which are required by law). Any information that is collected during sessions is kept confidential and will not be used without client consent. And while the therapist invariably runs into clients in public situations, they enjoy a friendly encounter without anyone else knowing they are doing therapeutic work together.

  • Therapists can read minds, will see through me and know my secrets–

A therapist can neither “see through” a client, nor can she / he “cure” a client single handedly.

Therapists are trained to navigate the mental blocks and troubling issues that most of us face in a systematic manner which over the years gives them insight to predict behavior. Those tools, combined with whatever a client wishes to reveal, are all the knowledge a therapist possesses.

So, to sum it all up, we all have meltdowns and need to deal with them either alone or with help. Lets pledge to create awareness by talking about mental health and issues related to it and also to accept people who suffer with absence of judgement.

“Ma’am, you are always so cheerful and calm, you would not be having any problems ” is what I hear often and the only thing that comes to my mind is my husband doing the classic ROFL!! Maybe I too need a therapist and my husband might be right, but he doesn’t need to know that… does he?? 🙂

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