Something I hear frequently from my adolescent clients is: “I don’t want to be here – I’m fine. I’m not crazy.” That or some variation comes up with almost everyone over twelve who comes to see me. Usually their parents either do not explain what will be happening when they come to my office or they themselves do not know.
Either way, one of the most important parts of my job is to help people – including children of all ages – understand what therapy is and why it may be helpful for them or their families. To the littlest of my clients – sometimes three years old – I tell them that I am a “feelings doctor” (a term suggested by a previous supervisor). Most children know who a doctor is and that they help people feel better, and I find that it helps not only the little ones, but their parents and older siblings to understand, as well.
My job is to help people who don’t feel well to feel better. That does not mean that they are crazy. I can say with honesty that I do not think my clients are crazy. Generally speaking, they are dealing with difficult circumstances with which they could use support. Just like when a flu virus invades our bodies and our body functions change in response to that virus, so can our minds and emotions change when faced with emotional stressors.
Therapy is not just for those who have auditory hallucinations (hear voices) or who do not know their own names. Therapy is also for people who just need some help getting through a tough time.
If we all used mental health resources – like therapy – as much as we took vitamin C to ward off a cold and other such precautions against physical illness, we would be a much happier and healthier society.
My hope is that we continue to move along towards decreasing the stigma of mental health treatment and allowing it to be ok for us to seek help when we need it.