Do you guys hear this being thrown around?:
"They / he / she need therapy."
"They / he / she just need counseling."
"I hope they get him into counseling soon."
So. Sometimes that's true. Sometimes there are life events, or mood disorders, or family relationships, etc. that affect a person to the point that counseling - the opportunity to receive professional help in establishing new ways of thinking and new coping strategies (That's the abridged definition) - can be extremely helpful.
Here's what's also true. Sometimes hard things happen and people find ways to cope without needing therapy. In the case of bereavement, for example, feelings of loss and grief might be extremely painful, but experiencing difficult emotions does not always mean you need counseling. Sometimes allowing ourselves to experience painful emotions is the best thing we can do ... because we're allowing ourselves to feel and to move through it. (Am I saying that nobody experiencing bereavement should seek out counseling? Nope. I'm just saying it's not always an automatic.)
I just got back from my hairstylist. Good night sometimes she drives me crazy. I was talking to her about how uninspired I am with my hair (this is a daily feeling for me), which somehow lead to me briefly mentioning that I was grumpy today. Grumpy with my hair. Grumpy that I have to drive 2.5 hours to a wedding reception tonight by myself as Shoes is in Utah for the away game. Then she asked how "working on your family's little addition" was going and I simply stated I was grumpy about that too.
Well, I am.
Then she said, "Are you in therapy?"
Dear hearts. Please do not ask people you don't really know very well this question.
It is RUDE. And deeply personal. (I also think we should let go of the stigma around seeking out mental health help. But still.)
I stated I was not, and she said, "Well, I think you should be."
For being grumpy that my hair is alternatively a greasy / frizzy mess? I think grumpiness is an appropriate response to that.
For being grumpy that I have to go to a wedding reception where I might not know anybody?
That's normal too.
And being grumpy that we're delayed in our family plans? HA! Grumpy is a MUCH preferred alternative to any number of things I could meet that with.
(Now, I should be in therapy because I'm a therapist, and it's standard practice for us to be so, but turns out I'm having a hard time finding a therapist who doesn't know me or my spouse's family in this tiny rural town....)
All this to say is that counseling is not always the answer, and sometimes we can find answers within us, or in our support systems, or our friends and family. Or Jesus or God or Allah or Nature or Art or Yoga or Marathons or .... (We know more than we think we know and can do better than we think we can do ...)
Sometimes counseling is most definitely the answer, but here's a little nugget about that as well.
Sitting in a counselor's chair / regularly attending therapy does not mean you're going to experience relief from negative symptoms or an increase in positive symptoms.
Well, that's Part 2 of this post, which is forthcoming ...