The Case for Therapy

02.10.18

It’s no secret that I have some amazing conversations with readers in the safe confines of The Twenties Club’s Instagram inbox. It’s a daily occurrence that always seems to reaffirm why I do what I do.

Recently, two seperate conversations raised the topic of therapy.

One reader said, “Finding a good therapist is like finding a good boyfriend.” Another reader confessed, “Paying for a friend’s therapy session is my birthday present of choice these days!”.

My first encounter with therapy came in my early twenties, when I experienced two extremely sudden deaths within a very short period of time, igniting a level of anxiety that I was unable to work through alone. That’s all I’ll say (my lucky therapist has the real tea lol), but essentially I needed a sounding board. And as confronting as it was to admit that I needed the support of a professional during that season of my life, it was also incredibly freeing to know that I had an unbiased, nonjudgemental friend, a world-class listener, whose primary motive was to make me feel better. It’s a therapists job to care. To validate and legitimise your worst fears and inclinations, and then provide a solution to either work through it or provide you with the tools necessary to coexist alongside it.

And yet there is still so much shame and stigma around seeking professional help. From where I’m sitting, therapy is proof that having flaws makes you part of the majority. Being complicated or a little broken makes you part of the majority. If it didn’t, then there wouldn’t be an entire industry of therapists, psychologists and counsellors, would there! This is not “niche”. In fact, having a shrink in the US is about as vital as a good hairdresser. You wouldn’t let a friend cut your bangs so don’t expect your neighbour to cure your PTSD. In places like LA and New York, your psychologist is in the same group of significance as a masseuse, or physio, or that lady that paints your nails once a month when you can afford it. The famous New York Magazine even has a weekly segment called “What Your Therapist Really thinks…”. 

Visiting a therapist or psychologist does not make you neurotic or self-absorbed or crazy or a deadline-driven perfectionist. You’re all those things anyway!!!! (kidding). Visiting a therapist reminds you that you contain multitudes. You are not one singular kind of woman. But many. You are simultaneously this way and the other. You have far more inconsistencies than you would readily admit. This is why it’s okay to have a big, beautiful life, dreamy husband and thriving career, and still have a tinge of sadness that needs addressing, anxiety that needs comforting, or fear that needs unpacking.

But I’m also aware that employing the help of a professional to address issues like body image, divorce, grief, anxiety or a broken relationship, is a luxury most cannot afford. It is a privilege reserved for those with higher levels of disposable income. Those lucky enough to find the time – let alone the cash – to spend sixty minutes talking about their “feelings”, which brings me back to my initial point about stigma. I wonder if there was less shame around therapy, a more robust discussion of it’s importance, plus easier access to counsellors in schools, would society find a way to bring down the overall cost?

If you have been lucky enough to employ the services of a psychologist, therapist, shrink or counsellor in your life, I’d encourage you to share this article on your social media. Break down people’s perception of what the right candidate looks like, and empower others to take stock of how they feel.

Now that’s what I’d call an “influencer.”