Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When Friends and Family Are Not Enough

By Gaetane Borders

In a time when so much has been written and discussed about the number of violent crimes and the survivors of such heinous acts, less has been said about how to treat the associated emotional and mental anguish that undoubtedly occurs.  For many, talking to friends and family members is a definite source of comfort in trying times.  Others may seek out the guidance of clergy and pastors, while some people choose to channel their energies into helping others in similar circumstances.  Depending on your personality and needs, any and all of the aforementioned can be beneficial to healing. 

However, there is another method that can also help those who are grieving or in any form of mental distress…clinical therapy.  Therapy is a commitment to improving your emotional health, and considering it as a means of helping you through the darkest times in your life is a courageous decision.  Nonetheless, there are a lot of people that would gain from seeing a therapist who have difficulty perceiving the benefit.  For some, thinking about discussing personal thoughts with a stranger is anxiety provoking. 

Some of the other concerns that people may have are:

·       I am going to find out something I won’t like about myself.
Attending therapy can be difficult, especially when you are in the process of uncovering memories and experiences that were not previously discussed.  However, your therapist will be cognizant of this delicate situation, and is there to help you make sense of your feelings and emotions.

·       I tried therapy once and it didn’t work.
Just because you may have tried therapy once before, do not be discouraged into thinking that you won’t gain something by visiting another therapist.  Finding the right professional with whom you form a rapport is key.  Also, there are a multitude of different kinds of therapy…not all involve sitting on a couch while you pour out your deep dark secrets.  For instance, there is art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, and group therapy to name only a few.  Don’t be afraid to try all kinds to see which works best for you.

·       What will people think if they find out that I see a therapist? 
Most people do, indeed, care what others think of them.  However, it is your decision whether you want to share this with anyone.  Also, keep in mind, a true supportive friend or family member would never make you feel less than for seeking therapy. 

·       Only crazy people go to therapy.
What is associated with this attitude is the myth that if you go for counseling that obviously means you are inadequate, weak, or crazy!  We all develop unhealthy and destructive ways of coping. No one is immune from these experiences, and depending on a number of circumstances and resources available to you at the time, seeking assistance is just plain smart.

Sadly, many people who would benefit from receiving therapy do not get the help that they need in order to cope with the tragic events in their life.  Sometimes friends and family cannot offer the level of support that is needed for true emotional healing.  That is why I urge everyone to be open to the idea.  Whether you are a victim of a violent crime, experienced a loss, or may be feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances…therapy can be the lifeline that you’ve been looking for.  I would recommend finding a therapist who specializing in the area of grief and trauma that you may be experiencing.  For example, if you are a survivor of incest, find a therapist who specializes with this issue.  Having someone who understands and knows what you have experienced is a sure fire way to encourage the professional rapport necessary for your journey towards recovery!
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  1. Therapy has helped me and my family more than anything else..

    I had many of the fears you speak about at first. But I was lucky enough to get a really good therapist, Dr J Mulkerne . I speak about him in my post.

    What I like about a therapist is they are professionals trained in helping people who have had certain problems in life.

    You wouldn't go to the car repair man if you broke your arm. I did a lot of looking before I went. I asked friends and I looked online. I first sought help from a Psychiatrist as I was having trouble shaking all the time. I knew he was the expert on physical reactions to trauma and he also gave me several recommendations.

    He recommended Dr J and I agree he was a perfect fit for me and my family. We have seen him now off and on for 3 yrs.

    He always hears from us when we need help. He helps us to see straighter and he helps us with coping skills. Yes we still have to cope with the actions of the abuser and probably always will, unless he dies.

    I liked talking to the therapist, it made me feel he was there just for me and he won't tell anyone what I say. I had security.

    So I am a big believer in therapy. Many healthcare plans cover it. Ours is Blue Cross Blue Shield. We only have to pay a $25 co-pay. There is a yearly deductible.

    But I look at it this way. When you travel you'll pay more for peace of mind, comfortable surroundings and safety, just so you'll get a good night sleep.

    I sleep good now and so does my child and grandchildren. Dr J has helped to make our lives easier.

    Thank God for therapist!

  2. Gaetane,

    Finding a good therapist is very hard to do. So I decided to do something about it. I started a site to help individuals find a compatible therapist by matching them based on personality type, communication style and more. You can give it a try - please let me know what you think:


    -Corey Quinn

  3. Cherry---It definitely sounds like Dr. J is an excellent therapist! I understand exactly what you mean about the security that a therapist provides. It enables people to be more open about expressing themselves because you know that what you say will not get back to those you know. Sometimes well-intentioned family members cannot help but to gossip about what was shared.

    Corey---Love it! You are right...it can be a challenge to find a compatible therapist. Your site seems to take the leg work out. Great tool!

  4. Gaetane -

    Thank you for your article, especially where you address the stigma of seeking therapy.

    To overcome misgivings about therapy, it may be useful to know that a competent therapist also attends therapy on a regular basis. We see the caricatures of them in movies, but the fact is that the ones you can trust are those who maintain their professional competence and effectiveness by being patients in their own profession.

    Professionals in the counseling practices will be some of the first to tell you that it is not a weakness to admit the need for help. It is actually a mark of strength, and an excellent step in getting through difficult times when you need more than your normal support base.


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