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Therapy Stigma

As I sat in a training for understanding and interventions for bipolar, I began having thoughts about “why am I in this field” and “will I ever understand fully the diagnostic traits of bipolar?” Then the thought immediately went into my emotions of loneliness, fear and disappointment. You would think having the thoughts and emotions would be enough to completely deplete my day. I took it one step further, i texted my significant other, to let him know I am going back to working under the system’s umbrella because I am not worthy of practicing in private practice. Wow, I’m exhausted just writing about it.

During the first session (intake), I work with the client to identify if we are a good fit. I then map out, which skills I can provide for them to heal. After identifying goals and a treatment plan, we begin our journey. Usually, within the first few sessions we start discussing the power and influence of thoughts->emotions->behavior. This simple skill (used with interventions such as CBT, DBT) has been the core of my journey as a therapist & a human being. I provided the example above to show that not only is it a life long journey but a work in progress. I despise the word perfect for 2 reasons 1. My significant other uses the word like its his favorite candy and 2. We all know perfection is unattainable and can set us up for failure. I know I’m not perfect and I feel my face scrunching up when someone says “that’s perfect,” but the example above is a”perfect” example of how life is a journey and a daily practice, if you want to heal your beliefs.

I grew up in a time when you would hear people whisper “did you hear who had to go to therapy?” I like anyone else would feed into the “who?” Until I realized, “who cares and how amazing for them, for wanting to improve their life.” I was always a therapist (ask some of my previous relationships), my journey to get here was a little longer than most. I ended up going in to fashion first, to hide my therapy skills in making people feel good on the outside. Which in some cases does help, with the healing of the inside too of course. I am proud of my background because it got me to where I am today. I understand when a client comes in and says “no one knows I’m here, i don’t want them to know I have issues.” My immediate thought is “we all have problems,” although I now know that I can change my thoughts before they lead to my behavior (unempathetic feedback). So this is when I use the skill (thoughts->emotions->behavior), I refocus my thoughts back on what that client must be going through and how much shame they must feel by not being able to tell anyone. I get it.

Do we have to be scared of our “issues?” Well they are scary. We all know that.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to get into treatment, we don’t want to be scared? Or scared of people knowing? I once worked in a place, where it was conducive to discuss how we were working on ourselves and our issues. That’s when I felt most connected. It was easy to talk about our vulnerabilities and swap tools. I grew as an emotional human being and a therapist. Maybe this is what therapy is about? Connecting, sharing, feeling safe, vulnerable and as Brene Brown would say, wholehearted.