02 Sep You Need to Go Talk to Somebody
Every time I meet a new client, I ask, “So, how did you get my name?” Because I work in a medical practice, the answer often is an MD who suggested it, especially after starting an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medicine. Other times, it’s the person her or himself who decided they wanted an objective (and confidential) ear. Sometimes, though, it was someone they know or a few someones they know who said, probably more than once, “You need to go talk to somebody.”
When it is someone else, I’ll follow up with a question as to why this other person suggested therapy and this usually leads us pretty quickly into to the issue or issues at hand, but not always. Sometimes the person will answer, “I don’t know. There’s nothing anyone can do.” This is actually a pretty common response and probably the thinking that leads many people not to try therapy at all (along with the stigma that only weak people seek help).
It’s a valid question, really. There are many things that are not going away by talking about them. Some people are losing a relationship or even getting a divorce against their will. Some have learned they have a chronic or even terminal disease. Some have lost loved ones to death. Some have been fired from their jobs. Some have discovered truths about loved ones or even themselves that are hard to swallow but are not going away. And yes, it is factually true that I cannot “fix” a single one of these. So why come talk to me?
Well, first you may be right. It might not help at all. The other truth is, by the majority reports of those who have been in therapy, it does help but probably not in an expected way. Sometimes, you just need to be heard. That sounds easy but when you are telling your problems to people you are close to, you will find that you spend a lot of time trying to manage their emotions and urges to give you advice and fix what it unfixable. Though therapists should be first and foremost good listeners, they also bring other things to the conversation. Depending on training emphasis and skill sets, there are different ways to get there but therapists are also skilled at understanding some of the sources of what you are dealing with emotionally or psychologically, and are also skilled (and this is a big one) at getting you to see your problem from a slightly different but sometimes profoundly important perspective. One of the most gratifying moments in therapy for me is when I hear the phrase “I never really thought about it like that before.”
All this can be summed up by this question and it is one I often ask. How can you learn to live with what you cannot change? I’m telling you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart, you can but you may need that professional someone to help you find the path there.