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“20 Reasons Therapy should be renamed Hope” by Dr. Vanessa Brown, Two Paths Integrative Wellness LLC, Farmington Hills, MI 48334

 

    In my 10 years of working in the mental health field, I know that therapy sometimes gets a bad reputation and I also know of its ability to change lives.  Coming from a family of staunch farmers and union workers, I’ve heard my share of “talking to a shrink is like throwing money away” and “what are you crazy or something? Just buck up, stop talking about it, and move on!”  I saw them try to use friends for support (therapy is just talking, right?), try to pray through it, try to work harder.  Yet each family member, one by one, would end up “on the couch.”  I’ve been there too in some dark times! Yet the family still talks about therapy in hushed tones like secrets passed from ear to ear.  Funny that Uncle Mike’s triple heart bypass was conversed about so openly while we were told to keep quiet that my brother was “having emotional issues” (whatever that meant!).

    There is commonly a stigma about mental health and sometimes I wonder if therapists unintentionally perpetuate this.  We are ethically bound by many rules, but among the most important is a rule that therapists live by: Confidentiality.  This means that we cannot talk about our sessions unless mandated by law (examples include if someone is in danger or if we suspect child abuse).  So to make the stigma of therapy more complicated, we cannot ask for testimonials from our clients. We cannot advertise in the same way other specialists might.  We cannot share our clients’ stories. Confidentiality in therapy is a key component to developing a trusting relationship where you can say anything and everything you need to.  And when a client feels comfortable telling me the whole story, the real story, it helps me to see a path to hope and healing.

    That’s what therapy really means to me, its a path to hope.  I love hearing stories and weaving hope in my office. And while therapy isn’t just talking, maybe you can reach out to others around you and listen to their own stories of therapy.  If you do, you might hear a story of hope. You might hear how therapy:

  1. Saved their marriage
  2. Eased their fear of the unknown
  3. Shined a light on their faith
  4. Taught them how to talk to their teen about sex and drugs (and yes, even rock and roll!)
  5. Improved their quality of life
  6. Gave them the tools to graduate school
  7. Reminded them of joy when all they felt was despair
  8. Played with their child who was too young or scared to speak their story
  9. Liberated them from feeling “not enough”
  10. Rescued their foster child from abuse and neglect
  11. Listened when no one else would
  12. Played a role in their recovery from addiction
  13. Comforted them through cancer
  14. Helped to create meaning when the world seemed so cruel
  15. Prayed, meditated, sat in silence, went for a walk, and painted a picture when there were no words
  16. Opened their eyes to a new way of looking at the world
  17. Empowered them to move on from relationships that were harmful
  18. Coached them in building healthy relationships
  19. Sat with them through the frustration of small successes despite hours of emotional work
  20. Instilled hope when they were ready to take their own life

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