“I’m not crazy!” Uncovering the stigma behind therapy and how it's beneficial
By Esmé Wharton
If “they must be crazy to be going to therapy” is a thought that crosses your mind when someone admits to seeing a therapist, it is time to alter your perspective on the topic. The process of going to therapy carries such a stigma with it in everyday life that it is no surprise people often feel too shy or ashamed to tell people they see a therapist, but with the growing acceptance and awareness of mental health in our community it is high time that this stigma be removed from our thought processes. Stigmas can be so engrained in our society that sometimes we don’t even notice our own judgement towards topics such as therapy, however this judgement can be detrimental to those seeking help or even considering the notion of speaking to a therapist. Raising awareness and educating yourself about therapy and its benefits is an essential step to take in order to dissolve feelings of shame or self-doubt within yourself or others considering seeking counselling. In actual fact, seeking help from a mental health expert carries so many benefits that even those of us who don’t seem to have ‘outward’ mental health worries would benefit from talking to a therapist.
Therapy is a form of communication that allows you to discuss and understand your thoughts and feelings, and can be helpful in solving a range of troubles, from stress management and anxiety to eating disorders or relationship problems. Many people often find that a problem shared is a problem halved, and that talking about feelings is the first step to recognising and understanding any internal difficulties you may face. A therapist is there as a professional ear to provide a safe space in which you can explore your feelings, thoughts and concerns, and since they are qualified to provide you with strategies and coping mechanisms to help solve your worries, you can be confident that you’re in safe hands. Alongside working through your specific issues, therapy brings so many other benefits that many often continue therapy sessions once their initial problems have improved, in order to reap the benefits and improve their general mental wellbeing.
The stigma surrounding therapy must be removed in order for society to realise that therapy is not for ‘crazy people’, but that that it is actually a process that can improve your quality of life and mental health through self-exploration and understanding. Therapy can provide each individual with the tools to cope with problems in the future, avoiding and decreasing the anxieties and stresses of daily life, and produces benefits such as self-empowerment, confidence, and improved relationships. If there is one thing to take away from this, it would be to avoid saving therapy just for those lowest of low moments, and instead start to view it as a beneficial process that your future self will thank you for and wish you’d started sooner.
Here are some useful websites that cover all things mental health and can help you take the first steps into looking into therapy sessions. Just remember, there is always someone to talk to and it is not always as hard as your mind may think it seems.
Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/your-guide-to-support/counselling-and-therapy/
Better Help match you with private counsellors https://www.betterhelp.com/
Leeds University Counselling Service https://students.leeds.ac.uk/info/100001/counselling_and_wellbeing
Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service https://www.leedscommunityhealthcare.nhs.uk/our-services-a-z/leeds-mental-wellbeing-service/home/
BCAP Therapy Register https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/how-to-find-a-therapist/