Updated: Jun 12, 2019
By Jackie Bland
Do you find ‘therapy’ an off-putting term, or think that ‘needing therapy’ is somehow a kind of failure?
Many people do, but I prefer to look at therapy as something that is a completely natural part of life, a kindness that we should both give and receive as we go about the business of living, and coping with the challenges that brings.
It’s not as if there’s just one approach, your therapy can be as individual as you are. Perhaps tactile hands-on therapies like massage will suit you, or some of the new ‘energy’ therapies which exploit our growing understanding of the connection between our minds and our bodies.
Or you may feel more comfortable with other therapies which are less physical, focusing instead on communication - talking, exploring thoughts, feelings and experiences with the aim of winning back a sense of calm and control.
Whatever the approach, all therapies have in common a relationship and close interaction between two people
Some people are themselves natural therapists, and some of us are fortunate to have these natural therapists as friends. The ‘therapy’ happens as part of the friendship and in the best examples works both ways. Problems are shared and solved, feelings are explored. Thought patterns can be examined, and often changed so that they serve us better.
Sometimes in life however, even when we have much-loved family and friends there can be events or occasions when there simply isn’t anyone to fill that therapeutic role. The natural process of sharing burdens and challenges and having the space to talk at length, to access help with your thinking processes simply doesn't happen.
Without the right space, change can’t happen
Without the space to safely share the problem it’s hard to find the creative energy and ability to make the changes that will solve it.
When we have no outlet, no support, we can begin to accumulate a cauldron of stresses and issues with nowhere to put them (other than in our own heads!) and so we have no way of dissipating them. We worry, overthink, develop fears and fantasies, feel stuck or depressed and struggle to relax or sleep.
When this happens it’s a clear sign that your mind is telling you that you need someone else. Often it’s not just your mind that tells you, stress accumulates over time within the body too. Perhaps at first it’s just niggles and you carry on because you are ‘coping’ but as stress becomes chronic, so do the physical problems associated with it.
Just as you would expect to develop a bad back or sore muscles if you carried too heavy a load in the wrong position for too long, so you can develop poor mental and physical health from carrying a heavy stress-load for too long.
Asking someone to join with you for a while at this point to find solutions to the things that are bothering you is a perfectly natural, healthy and positive thing to do.
Yes, deciding you need help is a positive, not a negative thing!
Just as it would be sensible to find someone to help you with that heavy load that is giving you a bad back and sore muscles, so it is a wise and health-giving move to ask for help with your stress load – just for a while.
In the same way your therapeutic friends can ask the right questions, make suggestions, encourage you and build your confidence, so can one of the many therapists out there who love their work and being a part of other people’s journey to greater health, happiness, achievement and peace. Therapists can also introduce you to new ways of looking at your life and techniques to help you leave behind the habitual beliefs and feelings which can keep you stuck either going nowhere, or going round in circles.
To a good therapist every client is welcome, interesting and valued
Therapists choose their work because they enjoy it, whether that’s a massage therapist helping you to reconnect with blissful relaxation, or a psychotherapist helping you to understand your own thinking and behaviour. To a good therapist every new client is welcome, unique, interesting and valued. A good therapist devotes their time entirely to you and their aim is to get alongside you and understand with you exactly what is happening.
Just as casual ‘therapy’ with a friend should be informal and fun, so it is when you seek a therapist. You want to leave a therapy session feeling positive and uplifted, not down and exhausted through focusing on problems.