Last week I was reminiscing with a colleague over life before psychotherapy became such an integral part of it. We were trying to imagine in today's world, how people generally think about psychotherapy and we remembered that most people who haven’t yet seen a psychologist, often ask us: “When is it a good time to go to psychotherapy?”
The general trend is that you reach out to seek counselling from a professional when you have a problem. Or when your life is destroyed by a deep personal issue or right after you've been hit by some serious catastrophe. This has been the approach for decades now, and I honestly hope it begins to fade away, and we can contribute to changing this limiting paradigm. In psychotherapy, such in other health related fields, prevention is key!
This year, between the 22nd and 25th of January, Davos, Switzerland was hosting the World Economic Forum. Some scary numbers were issued in that context, in regards to Mental Health. The information that shocked me the most was the one saying that 1 in 3 people will need therapy by 2025 if we carry on living the way we do. To need therapy is a very different thing than to want it, by the way.
So in today's world, when you ask me about when you should see a therapist, my answer is: the moment the question comes to your mind! If you are considering to go see a psychologist, do it right now, do it today!
Because if the thought crosses your mind, this is the first sign your psyche is giving you that there is a need for you to do it. Just as a small cavity makes you rush to get an appointment to the dentist, so should you consider the need for seeking therapy. Ignoring the cavity makes your teeth rot and fall off. Ignoring your mental health makes your thinking faulty, alters your perception about yourself and the world, and eventually can make you hurt more than necessary. In short, you end up losing time, investing more money in your process and you give up on precious well-being.
Most of the issues that clients bring to my practice, are issues that could have been addressed roughly a year before they actually brought them to me. So what makes people wait in silent suffering before reaching out for help?
In a nutshell, it's fear. Most people are afraid to acknowledge that they are suffering.
Somehow the general trend still persists in telling us that issues are normal. We believe that we all have problems and it's ok to keep pushing ourselves beyond our limits. That ultimately we are weak and ineffective if we reach out for help. This internalized conviction makes us hold back from sharing the emotional burden that life sometimes places on us. We don't complain about being stressed, overworked, sad, lonely, disappointed. Because it seems that everyone is, and it looks like nobody is making a big fuss about it, or that everyone can handle their stuff better than you can.
Yet everyone is shocked when someone near and dear, or far and famous commits suicide. Then we spend some time reading their story and reflecting on how could it be that they lived with a secret depression for so many years? How could it be that nobody saw it or said or did anything? What if this will happens to me or someone that I love? And then you wonder again...Should I go see a therapist?
Yes, yes you should! People who should seek therapy are you and several of your loved ones. Because psychotherapy is not about being weak. And it shouldn't be addressed as a last resort when everything else has failed. You don't try to cement your own teeth, do you? Nor do you try to operate on your gums with a hand held mirror.
So why would you minimize the importance of your mental health, and avoid seeing a therapist?
In your life’s journey, the earlier your bring your lack of satisfaction with it to therapy, the better off you’ll be. The sooner you’ll get back to feeling healthy again and the cheaper it will be in the long run. Investing in your mental health is no longer a luxury or a disturbance.
Psychotherapy is an act of self love, self care and self preservation which you cannot and should not afford to miss out on.