Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everyone Needs Good Therapy

I'm not embarrassed to say I have worked hard on myself. You know how they say that the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree?" I think this apple has. For example, when I "say it like it is," that's certainly not something my parents taught me to do. And I am serious when I tell you that the only reason I am conscious that I am straightforward is because people tell me frequently enough. I don't even really know I do it. This is just one example of what 8 (or 9?) therapists have done for me. They have made me confident.

I can certainly say that almost every single one of my friends has been in therapy. Sorry, friends, if I am exploiting you on here. And the only reason I am comfortable exploiting you on here is because we will almost all agree that this is just something our generation does. We aren't ashamed. You know - go to yoga, get your hair cut, go to therapy, get a drink at happy hour. It's just part of our day.

And if you have never gone to see a shrink, it is just another thing that I recommend. (I seem to be making a lot of recommendations on here). Hmmm.... It appears that most baby boomers didn't get the benefits of what I have had until they were adults. It also seems that a lot of them are still hesitant to go. And the hardest part is making the phone call. Everyone will tell you that.
Now, I am pretty sure that most people have accused me of being an armchair psychologist. I have also been accused of regurgitating information that my sister, the psychologist tells me. I have been doing analysis since I was a child. Yes, I run things past my sister. I also run things past my other sister, the social worker. But I have always been confident in my interpretive work. Even since I was a kid.

One of my pet peeves is when people tell me that they stopped going because their shrink "told them they didn't need to go any more." And then they start telling me how they are estranged from their sister, and they are cheating on their girlfriend, and they drink every night, and they tried cocaine and they liked it, and I am going, "What kind of therapist thinks this person is ok?" (I know, I have a lot of hang-ups) But, really? What professional sends this client back into the world of no therapy? This isn't just one person I am talking about, either. MULTIPLE people have told me this. So here is my theory - you stopped opening up to them, and were no longer inviting them in. And then they told you what you wanted to hear. Most people want to hear that their lives are totally normal. But we know that we all have our bag of problems. Some are trash bags and some are lunchbags.

I have thought many times of posting my feelings on therapy. But what made me finally do it is realizing that I know too many people out there who need it, and aren't going. When I tell you I am always analyzing, I am. I think too much. I hear that a lot. But it amazes me how many people don't think at all.

So, here are some questions I ask myself, to make sure I am ok:

1. Is my relationship with my parents ok, or is it unhealthy?

2. Do I agree with their parenting?

3. Where is my role model for a healthy relationship?

4. Is my relationship healthy?

5. When I am with friends, do I let them talk about themselves, and their issues, (so I can tell them that they need a therapist....)

6. What do I need to do today to feel like I accomplished something by the day's end?

And the list goes on. And these questions are always in my head. They are complex, too. The meanings vary. But, I urge everyone to go to therapy at some point, if you haven't already.

In order to enjoy it, it is really important that you connect with your therapist. I prefer a man. A lot of my women peers do. And vice versa for my male friends. They like women. DON'T stay in a therapist's office if there is sexual tension or if they get too personal, such as suggesting to get together with you or your family outside of their professional office, I think that's probably unethical. I am fine going to counselors who are not PhDs. That's no big deal. You can usually go to their website to see that they are valid. I would prefer not to go to a shrink who went to some made up online counseling thing. Also make sure their profile doesn't say they are a PhD, and then in parenthesis "Candidate." To me, that's false advertising.

If you go to someone, and realize there is no connection there, move on to the next one. You can therapy hop. Don't waste your time. And why should they?

Oh, and my favorite line? "I don't need to go." C'mon! Everyone needs it. Since I am an "armchair psychologist," my friends all asked me in a group setting if they should currently be in therapy. I told them each of them "yes", and then followed up with a diagnosis. I even recommended various therapists in the area.

Boy, was I excited to learn I have mainstream health insurance again!


  1. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for Jan Hammill.