I first went to therapy on a short-term basis as a sophomore in college. Since February 2017, I have consistently been going to therapy to seek help with facing anxiety and depression. As Mental Health Month comes to a close, I am excited to share these 5 reasons why therapy is a blessing in my life:
- I am learning how to be kinder to myself. Growing up, being an academic high-achiever defined me. I found validation on my report cards, test scores, and award certificates. Even though I was a shy kid, classmates knew me because I was “smart”. My intelligence felt like my only area of confidence. I struggled whenever I fell short of perfection. As an adult, it’s still been a process to accept that I’m loved and loveable even though I’m imperfect. Therapy has taught me a lot about recognizing and overcoming shame. It is still teaching me to speak more kindly to myself after experiencing moments that feel like setbacks.
- I can talk to a non-judgmental professional. I am more of a listener than a talker. In therapy, I get to talk about myself a lot, which is sometimes uncomfortable. However, it is encouraging to have a supportive professional ask me reflective questions, commend me for being vulnerable, share useful tools, and guide me toward becoming more confident.
- I get homework (action steps to take in between sessions). My therapist incorporates books into her counseling approach. As an enthusiastic reader, I love reading books that are designed for personal growth. Most recently, I read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. That book was amazing! I am both nervous and eager to start setting healthier boundaries in my life. Along with book recommendations, my homework might include journaling about a specific prompt, taking a small step toward facing a fear, or creating an inspiring music playlist.
- I found a therapist who is a great match for me. It is difficult to embrace vulnerability and grow with a therapist that isn’t right for you. I found my current therapist by using the database on Psychology Today’s website. On there, you can tailor your search for therapists by filtering for preferences, like cultural background, location, insurance coverage, and areas of specialty. I appreciate that my therapist is a Black woman who understands more about my identity. She also incorporates spirituality and faith into her work, which is a major part of my journey. In the past, I have worked with a couple of other therapists who have also positively impacted my life. Some of them didn’t share my cultural background, but all offered something that helped me progress at the time.
- I am choosing to do something healthy and empowering for myself. Therapy is one of the avenues that is gradually helping me to love and treat myself better. It is something that I chose to do for myself despite initial fears about what people would think of me. It is helping me to be my best self, show up more freely and authentically, and love others better as a result.
If you are thinking about giving therapy a try, please know that you are not alone! I am learning about more and more people of many backgrounds who are getting professional help. It is nothing short of brave.
Lastly, if you are a Black woman, here are a few resources that have helped me: