Do I need therapy? We answer your questions

It has always striked me as odd -and sad- the fact that a huge number of people still refuses to seek counseling when facing emotional problems of any kind. Why would they do that, I very often have asked myself. Why would they refuse to get help to fix something they do not know how to fix themselves? Why would anyone refuse to seek professional advice even though they are suffering, and their suffering is not going away no matter how hard they try to either deal with it or ignore it?

Mi experiencie with therapy

For a long time I was puzzled, for I could not understand why. But then I remembered the many number of years I spent coexisting with my own troubles and difficulties. I did not trust anyone. I thought I knew myself better than anyone could. And of course I didn’t want to open up to any stranger and pour out my inner miseries. No way.

Then, when I was around 35, one of my friends, who had been trained as a Gestalt psychotherapist, started a therapy group. I joined in, only because I knew her and trusted her. That was my first experience with Gestalt Therapy. And also my first experience with trusting and opening up. And it totally changed my life. For the better.

During that first experience and the ones that followed, including my own training as a Gestalt Therapist, I discovered how wrong I had been. The most important thing I learned is that each one of us do have the answer to our own problems. Unfortunately, we usually don’t have a clue as to where or how to find those answers. We think we know ourselves, but the part of ourselves that we know is the part that blindly repeats one behaviour pattern after another. Obviously that is why we suffer!

Do we really know better?

Yes. We think we know better. Yet we don’t. And when the reality of our poor relationships, work problems, stress, parenting difficulties, anxiety or addiction hits us, we majestically trick ourselves into believing one of 3 things:

  • That we can solve the problem ourselves.
  • That acknowledging something is wrong makes it real, so it is best to pretend it is not happening, in an effort to make the problem go away.
  • That if we admit we have a serious emotional problem, we admit we are a failure, we are vulnerable, we are lost. Or worse, we are weird and crazy. And that is simply not admissible.

Ok. All of the above is understandable in a certain way.

The ‘I don’t need therapy’ syndrome: Insights for skeptical sufferers

Now please consider these analogies:

Our laptop, car, or phone doesn’t work properly or breaks down. We suffer from migraine or stomach ache. We want to open up a new business, invest a sum of money, or learn French.

In all cases, imagine that for whatever reason we do not want to admit that we have a problem, we need help, and we do not know how to fix or learn whatever it is by ourselves.

We are ashamed of admitting our problem. Or too proud. Or we tend to avoid things. Or we are afraid but we would never recognize it. Or we view ourselves as losers if we need to ask for help. You name it.

So our laptop, car, phone, head, stomach, business, money and/or new languages sit there indefinitely not being taken care of. Because we refuse to ask for professional help. Because we think we can fix our own stuff. Maybe we try and do succeed, but then the problem reappears after a while, mainly because we may know ways to fix it temporarily, but we don’t have the proper tools to fix it permanently. And then the cycle starts again.

I call this an emotional or relational dead end. It takes us nowhere.

How can we then turn around and get out of a dead end? First of all, asking ourselves whether we honestly believe we can solve the problem. Whether we have tried over time and nothing has really changed. Whether we keep going back to the same painful patterns over and over.

If the answer to these questions is yes, we need professional help. Seeking professional help means nothing but reaching out to someone who is trained to help deal with emotional/relational issues. Just as a mechanic, a tech person, a doctor, or a language teacher are trained to help us with whatever we might be needing at a specific time.

 If you haven’t tried it, I strongly recommend you do. And if you have but it didn’t work as you expected, find someone else. There are hundreds of great counselors and psychotherapists out there. It’s a matter of finding the right one for you. ‘I don’t need //therapy’ sounds as ridiculous as ‘I don’t need a doctor’ or ‘I don’t need a mechanic’. If your issue is not getting better, you do need it. Period.

Learn more about Emotional and Relational Counseling

This post is also available in: esEspañol