Historically, therapy has gotten a bad rap. Before mental health was researched or understood, individuals were deemed crazy if they displayed or admitted a mental health condition. Moreover, it was assumed that they would take a trip to the “loony bin” or to a padded cell with Mrs. Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to rehabilitate or receive electroshock therapy. Either that, or someone would deem them untreatable, without hope, and either metaphorically or literally throw away the key.
Thankfully, society has come a long way from these faulty perceptions. Most mental health afflictions are seen as treatable and manageable conditions. The vast majority of people are no longer being discriminated against for their mental health diagnoses, resulting in some being more verbal about their conditions. Unfortunately, there are still some lingering stereotypes lurking around that prevent some from even considering therapy. These individuals proudly state that they do not believe in therapy and craft articulate statements about not wanting anybody to “play or mess with” their heads.
Perhaps these individuals speak out of fear, or maybe it is just plain ignorance. Why would anybody scoff at help? What would possess somebody to turn down extra support? How could advice and feedback from an objective party be a bad thing? These people are often close minded and not open to the prospect of therapeutic intervention. Then, there is another part of the population who remains unsure. They may be a little more open-minded, but still ponder whether therapy is “really worth it.”
The answer to this question is an unequivocal, unwavering yes. For some who win the proverbial genetic jackpot, mental health conditions and psychiatric illness may run through the roots of their family tree. These individuals are left with no other recourse but to either ignore or manage their conditions.
Others may not possess a hereditary linkage, but may have the misfortune of being negatively impacted by life circumstances. These are the people who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Abuse, neglect, trauma, or natural disasters are unwelcome and can occur without warning. Grief, loss, and death are inherent parts of life that leave loved ones lost and broken-hearted. Unhealthy relationships, toxic marriages, and divorce run rampant amongst us. Addiction and substance abuse arise when one finds themselves armed without the proper coping mechanisms.
Whether mental illness is rooted in genetics, whether it develops from environmental stressors, or whether it results from life circumstances, therapy can always help. Therapy can assist an individual to progress through the puzzle of life via personal exploration and by affording them the opportunity to process through life’s most complicated and confusing puzzle pieces. Therapy affords one with non-judgmental acceptance and gives people a safe place to be themselves. Therapy can either mend broken relationships, or help guide partners to their separate ways. It can encourage one to find and express hidden or difficult emotions, while embarking on a journey of healing.
While it is mostly understood that mental illness does not inevitably result in a trip to the “crazy house” or into permanent physical restraints, some people are still highly resistant to therapy. Unfortunately, they still equate therapy to Mrs. Rached and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. However, at the end of the day, most people are willing to admit that life is challenging and difficult. Just when a person thinks that they have it all figured out, something happens to make them realize that they know nothing. Therapy can be beneficial to anyone looking for support, guidance, and unconditional acceptance. Whether you are seventeen and anxious about the rest of your life, whether you have just experienced a manic episode, or whether you are battling deep depression, therapy can guide you towards a path of well-being and fulfillment.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.