What comes to mind when you think of therapy? Is it lying on a couch week after week exploring your childhood? Do you think of disorders and mental health diagnoses? We can look towards the traditional “pathology model” for these stereotypes.
Historically therapy has been driven by the “medical model,” that of evaluating and diagnosing pathology. This is what we mean when we talk of depression, anxiety, and the like.
Yet isn’t it time that we change this view. As the actress Kerry Washington so eloquently stated, “My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink.”
Having our teeth cleaned, going to the doctor for an annual check-up, having our car’s oil changed, are all preventive measures. We know the importance both of preventing issues before they arise and of early detection of possible issues. So why is it that so many of us do not take a similar view of emotional health?
I was recently talking with a colleague’s teenage niece about therapy. This girl noted that she has worked with a therapist, on and off as needed, since middle school and she expressed how this has been invaluable to her growth and achievements. Smart girl!
If we viewed therapy from a “public health model,” that is something that is good for both individuals and society as a whole, maybe the stigma of therapy would be less and maybe we would be more likely to prioritize mental health. After all, we all have challenges whether it be managing stress, communicating with our partner, or interacting with co-workers. Life itself is challenging!
Other support systems such as friends and family are important yet the therapeutic relationship is different from any other. It is all about you, to express yourself, be heard, and problem-solve in an objective, non-judgmental, and confidential environment. So how about this New Year, you take a new approach to nurturing your psychological health and give a therapist a call.
“Mental health… is not a destination but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Unknown