Alli Griffiths, Mental Health Counselor, RI
Do you see your doctor annually for a routine checkup? Or do you wait until you have a problem to seek medical advice? If you do the latter, ask yourself, why am I reluctant to seek help? Why do I wait until I am in crisis?
In recent years, I have noticed a shift towards prevention over cure in the American healthcare system. In Miami, I see health food stores and restaurants everywhere. It seems that Americans are beginning to invest more into their physical health.
So why not apply the same principle to mental health?
Well, there are some common misconceptions about mental health, so let’s address them:
Myth #1: “I don’t have time to go to therapy.”
Do you have time to be in crisis? Do you have time to look for a new job because you rage quit? Do you have time to repair your relationship because you have no coping skills and took your frustrations out on your partner? In retrospect, one hour of therapy per week seems reasonable.
Myth #2: “I don’t need a counselor; I can talk to my family and friends about my
Yes, of course you can! And I recommend that you do. However, our family and friends have judgements and biases – based on their own life experiences. Their guidance may be well-meaning, but they have their own ideas about how we should live our lives.
In contrast, by speaking to a counselor, you can better understand your problems from an unbiased third-party perspective. A therapist will help you gain insight so that you can make the best decisions for you – without external influences.
Myth #3: “I don’t need any help; I can do this myself.”
You can! But you don’t have to. Think of all the things we ask for help with daily: chores, homework, childrearing.
So why not ask for help with our minds, which are the essence of our very being?
Myth #4: “I’m doing fine so I don’t need therapy.”
This is the best time to seek counseling! When you are content and mentally stable, you are open to receiving constructive feedback and making positive changes in your life. Self-improvement is easier when you have the time and energy to work on yourself.
Moreover, finding a therapist can be a time-consuming process. You’re looking for someone who accepts your insurance, someone whose personality is a good fit for you, and someone who uses your preferred therapeutic modality.
Since the process of finding a therapist is daunting, I recommend that clients start looking for one when they’re feeling okay. It’s easier to find a great therapist when you’re in a good place mentally. Then, when you find yourself needing support, you already have someone you trust.
Furthermore, therapy is emotional maintenance. It keeps us functioning optimally. If our baseline is stable, then we can bounce back faster from everyday stressors. However, if we are barely making it through the day, then even the smallest inconveniences can cause us to break down.
Lastly, no one teaches us how to work on our minds. In school, we’re taught math, science, and reading, but we’re not taught how to be happy. Many of us don’t know how to manage stress or sit with uncomfortable emotions. Therapy helps us establish healthy coping, interpersonal, and emotional regulation skills.
In conclusion, just because you can do it alone does not mean that you must. There is no shame in asking for help. And there is no reason to wait until you’re miserable to seek counseling.
Even if you’re ‘doing fine,’ why not get more out of life? Do you want to look back on your life and say, ‘it was fine?’ No! You want to say it was a masterpiece. You deserve it!
And with the help of a counselor, you can learn how to go from simply surviving to absolutely thriving.
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