Therapy: Break the Stigma

Elizabeth Price, Staff Writer

Hyperventilations, tachycardia, cold sweats, trembling, chest pains, and nausea. You cannot breathe. You cannot focus. But despite how you might feel, you are not alone.

One in five people experience a mental illness, and yet there is such a stigma surrounding therapy. Therapy is an outlet for people to talk about and receive professional help for their day to day struggles. However, in today’s society, going to therapy, denotes a certain negative connotation that leads to only a portion of people with a mental illness receiving the help they need. Despite the stigma surrounding therapy, everyone, even the people who seem happiest, should get professional help when they come across problems.

The stereotype that counseling consists of a therapist asking an insane person sitting on a couch how they feel is a serious misconception. In reality, people start going to therapy for a variety of reasons. Problems with friendships or relationships, help with a career path, parenting, struggles with depression or any mental illness or just needing an hour a week dedicated to yourself are all among the many reasons why people seek professional help. Therapy is very useful for any challenges going on in a person’s life, no matter how simple. In addition, all therapists are different. These trained professionals each have their own methods to help solve whatever issue people throw at them. Most therapists are genuinely interested in people’s problems and try their very best to not only give useful, unbiased advice but also strategies and coping mechanisms to handle problems in the future. Because of this, the positive effects of therapy will carry with a person for the rest of their lives. Finding a therapist that is right for you individually is crucial for the best therapeutic experience. For the same reason that all therapists are different, all therapies are different as well. A therapy session is tailored to fit a person and their particular set of issues, so every person will have their own experience with it.

In 2015, only 41% of teens suffering a mental illness received treatment. Many people assume that going to counseling will make them feel weak or inferior, but this is not the case. On the contrary, therapy sessions help people build stronger, more adaptive versions of themselves. The skills learned in therapy will help break harmful behaviors. Even so, it is a fallacy that therapy “fixes” a person, because a person cannot be fixed in the first place. Counseling is designed to improve certain behavior traits and help the individual to learn methods that will prevent significant problems later on in life. Going to therapy does not mean you are broken; it means you are human and want to strengthen pieces of yourself.

Simply opening up to a person about an issue that has been troubling you will surprisingly lift the heavy weight off your shoulders. In today’s society, people, especially men, are taught to repress emotions. We are taught that it is not socially acceptable to cry or even publicly display feelings. Bottling up emotions, however, has proven to be seriously ineffective and can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or violent outbursts. Being able to finally open up the bottle is an euphoric experience that liberates the soul.
Therapy is an introspective process. It forces a person to look inside themselves and truly understand why and how their issues arose. For these reasons, counseling sessions are valuable not just to those who suffer a mental illness, but to anyone who has been struggling with the weight of any issue.