The evidence clearly shows that therapy improves our mental and physical well-being. Why is it that more people do not seek the services of a therapist or psychotherapist?
Why more of us don’t go for Psychotherapy?
There is still a stigma associated with seeing a psychotherapist, especially in the UK. I remember a quote from a psychologist who said, “In America you see a counsellor and people say, well done you are getting better,”; Whereas in the UK they say, “ what’s wrong with you?” It is seen as weak or having failed if you seek the help of a psychotherapist in order to understand and negotiate your issues when it could be argued. However, I would argue it is actually the stronger person that looks at their mental health and tackles their issues head-on.
On the notion of stigma, in the book What is Madness (by Darain Leader), tells us that only mad people go to psychological services and that they are suffering from violent delusions or psychosis. It seems the whole notion of madness is linked to mental health services, and therefore you assume you will somehow be linked to ‘madness’ if you undertake psychotherapy.
I believe that the stigma associated with psychotherapy is linked to our western society’s notions of not discussing negativity and being taught to always put our best foot forward. The book Smile or Die (written by Barbara Ehrenreich) goes to great lengths in regards to highlighting just how much we are built to focus wholeheartedly on the positive, and negate the negative aspects of our lives and society. I would argue that we have not been taught how to deal with our mental anguish but instead repress, forget and bury any negativity into our psyche.
Ignoring mental ailments:
We are taught to get help only when all else has failed or when life depends on it. This is similar to a physical ailment such as a broken arm or leg. We don’t see our mental well being as a physical ailment. Therefore many try to ignore, forget or even live in ignorance of their mental limiting factors.
I had a client once who would always say, “I can’t say that, because if I say it, it makes it real”. My client’s statement made me realise how scary it may seem to face those repressed issues.
It could seem daunting to have a person we don’t know listening to our problems. There’s the worry of what is expected of us and what we should you should do in a session. You may feel that you will be judged, given ‘bad advice’ or not heard at all.
Previously, I suggested that society teaches us to hide our pain and anguish throughout our lives. This, in turn, affects our mental well-being and holds us back from being the best we can be.