I don’t know, are you?
Being a counselor means that sometimes when you tell people you assess mental health for a living, they reply with something like, “Ooohhh, I’m going to be safe about what I say around you!”
The implication they are making is that I’m going to somehow assess within 5 seconds if they are bat shit crazy or axe murders. It’s always intended to be a joke, but I imagine it’s how astrophysicists (this is not me comparing myself to geniuses) feel when they tell people what they do and someone goes, “Oh, I’m not going to speak to you because I’ll probably sound dumb.”
My professional opinion is that we’re all a little bit crazy. Which is why I’m never surprised when the second question I’m usually asked is, “Hey, do you think I should go see a therapist?”
What do I tell them?
Obviously, I talk a lot about how much therapy changed my life. So, that’s where I start when people ask me. I think it would be unfair to ask people to go outside of their comfort zone to come see me as a therapist if I couldn’t empathize with the fear of having that, “Holy shit, I really need to go talk to someone,” realization.
I get a lot of push back from others. They make excuses or simply say that therapy isn’t for them. You know what? They’re right. It’s hard to be successful at something you have no interest in reaping the benefits from.
I also hear a lot of fear and anxiety. People ask me what it’s like, they worry they’ll be judged since getting therapy is basically like shouting out, “I’M CRAZY, NO BODY TOUCH ME.”
It’s like mental cooties or something. If one person admits they need to go talk to someone, every one else worries they might catch the crazy.
But if you’re still reading this post (Jesus, I’m long-winded), you’re not reading to find out if I’m crazy. We’ve established that. You want to know if you’re crazy and you should go talk to someone. So here’s what I tell all my friends, acquaintances, and random strangers who inquire because I’m the first mental health therapist they’ve ever met in person and have found that Googling “Am I Crazy?” just doesn’t give them the answer they want.
I view the mind like a car. Through time, we’ve established that cars need regular maintenance to perform in tip-top shape. That means getting your oil changed, your tires rotated, etc. Now, we know basically everything there is to know about cars and car maintenance. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what goes on upstairs and how it affects our lives. If we are so willing to take our cars in for a check-up, why don’t we feel the same about our minds?
If you’re curious, make an appointment to talk to someone. Research therapists that seem like they may suit your needs/concerns. If you get really confused, you can e-mail me!
The follow-up to the car schpiel?
“Well, I actually went to a therapist and it was horrible and I hated him/her/it. They made me do all this weird spiritual/role-playing/guided visualization shit I didn’t want to do.”
First of all, that therapist was crappy. A therapist should never do something that is out of your comfort zone (within reason) and should always ask about your spirituality and if you are comfortable incorporating that into counseling.
Second of all, would you just not go see a doctor again if you went to a crappy doctor?
In all likelihood, no. You wouldn’t. You’d find someone else that fit your plan and you’d go to them. You’d try several doctors until you found “The One”.
When it comes to finding a therapist, it’s really no different. In fact, you really are looking for “The One”. I tried therapy several times before I found my counselor. The way I explain it to those who ask, is to ask them, “Have you ever met someone and felt within five minutes that he/she just got you? In a brief moment, that that person understood everything about you?”
That’s what the right therapist will feel like. You’ll be potentially baring your soul to this person. They better “get” you.