My partner and I recently started couples therapy. Phew! There, I said it. Admitting that I am going to therapy, especially couples therapy, makes my heart race and my face flush. Although I work in the mental health field, there is a stigma against the therapist having problems and seeking help. We expect ourselves to be superhumans who have it all figured out. After all, we can apply our training in helping others to help ourselves, right?
Not so much.
This article by Dr. Robert Epstein (a big deal psychologist) published in 1997, provides some staggering statistics about the percentages of therapists who struggle with mental health concerns. Dr. Epstein also talks about the culture of silence around this issue. He concludes the article with tips for clients to protect themselves from incapacitated therapists. Although I don't think the situation is quite as scary as he makes it out to be, I do think the article offers some food for thought about how therapists shy away from asking for help. This article is 20 years old but the stigma against mental health professionals seeking help continues to be an issue. More recent articles (here, here, here, and here) of therapists sharing their own struggles are both heart wrenching and inspiring. The fact that these types of stories are rare and remarkable (and often anonymous) is a testament to the pervasive culture of silence.
I feel more free admitting that I don't have it all figured out and that I need guidance in my relationship. My partner and I first started reading through books on relationships to see if we can figure things out on our own. Below is a list of my favorites. Then we found a wonderful therapist who uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to work with us. We are two sessions in and we are already seeing some progress. I really love experiencing therapy as a client and taking time to work on my areas of growth. I am not superhuman.
Do you have a hard time asking for help? Do you have tips on how to overcome stigma about mental health? If so, leave me a comment below.
Begin Individual or Couples Counseling in Seattle, WA
If you are struggling with mental health concerns or relationship concerns, you don't have to do this alone. Therapy can be supportive of your growth as an individual and as a couple. Here at Thrive for the People, our therapists try to walk to talk by taking good care of ourselves and encouraging our clients to do the same. Mental health stigma is pervasive but don't let that hold you back from seeking the support you need. Reach out today to get started. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if we are a good fit for you.