The Perceived Shame in Therapy

“Just pray it out.” “You’re making it a bigger deal than it is.” “You’ll get over it. It’s just a phase.”

There’s a perceived shame in seeking therapy/counseling and often folks use words like those above to dismiss others who recognize, or are becoming aware, that they need more than just a listening ear.

There’s a mountain of reasons anyone would seek out therapy and no matter what they are, its commendable.  The misplaced feeling of shame admitting you need help is self-destructive. Work, family, personal relationships all come with their own level of difficulties and seeking help in finding peace amidst the clutter is courageous.

I’ve worked with a life coach when I’ve felt overwhelmed and I had to work out my own belief that seeking help was a sign of weakness. That stigma of wanting professional assistance counteracts this inherit belief that we should all be able to work out our own problems. But why do we hold no prejudices if someone seeks a mechanic to fix a car or a doctor to heal a broken bone?

While on Huffington Post Canada I read “Therapy Myths: 10 Common Misconceptions About Seeing A Therapist”, and came across this great quote by clinical psychologist Ryan Howes:

“People go to therapy to cope with disorders, relationships, stress, grief, to figure out who they are and learn to live life to the fullest,” said Howes. “There’s no shame in wanting a better life.”

Do we all not deserve a better life and the right to make it happen? If we’re grieving a loss, lamenting a failed marriage, or dealing with other life struggles do we all not deserve to take our life into our own hands and proactively heal/mend/assess whatever we need to in order to find peace?

One of the myths about therapy that stood out to me was that therapy is meant to be confronting, which is due to what we’ve seen in the media. But the truth is that “good therapy is about compassion…and is intended to let the client experience their own emotional breakthroughs at their own pace”, says Noah Rubinstein, founder and CEO of therapist directory GoodTherapy.org

For anyone looking into therapy, this “Beginner’s Guide To Starting Therapy” had some helpful points. For example, knowing the different types of therapy and figuring out what’s best for you, such as the variation from cognitive vs psychoanalytical therapy.

If you’re considering taking this journey, be clear about what you hope to gain from the experience and do your research on therapists in your area. Good luck!

One thought on “The Perceived Shame in Therapy

  1. Samantha

    I feel like there was probably more “shame” back in our parents generation, but with the new generation, and it could be because of social media and how everyone knows everything about you at all times, but seems to me that more people are open about seeing therapists or reading self help books, etc. stuff of that nature. I was even talking to a gf the other day about getting pre-marital counseling and she was like “yes, totally what a great idea” so I actually feel that in this day and age, it’s more common and accepted. It’s almost like there is a trend of having a therapist. Dunno, maybe it’s just me!

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