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Healthy You Now Magazine article -

Seeking Therapy, No Shame

Andrea Wise-Brown, M.Ed., LPC

It was a Thursday morning at 9:55am when the doorbell of my suite rang. I went out in the waiting area where a man pushed me into my office while introducing himself. He said,” My name is Dr. Stevens*, I’m your 10:00am appointment, I wanted to get out of your waiting area before someone else sees me.” I asked, why that would be a problem and he responded, “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy and need psychotherapy.”

I had to talk to Dr. Stevens about the importance of taking care of his mental health and that he shouldn’t feel shame. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time a client rushed into my office to avoid the gaze of others.

In the United States there is a stigma attached to anything “mental health”. There needs to be a shift because for many Americans, mental health services are necessary for quality of life. Research shows that over 49 million Americans are prescribed psychotropic medication and most of them are also utilizing psychotherapy. According to Medco Health the use of psychotropic medications grew 22 percent from 2001 to 2010.

When people are diagnosed with mental illness such as, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression/Anxiety, and or Personality disorder they are prescribed both psychotropic medication and psychotherapy, which is beneficial to their recovery. However this is not the only population that I serve in my practice. Most of my clientele have other types of life stressors and/or confusion that may be impeding on their ability to function at their highest level. There is no specific look or lifestyle to the average psychotherapy client. On average clients are gainfully employed with a myriad of professions such as, doctor, nurse, lawyer, CEO, entertainer, teacher, and athlete.

All of my clients have the same underlying goal; to overcome barriers in hopes of learning lessons that will bring them closer to their authentic selves. There is nothing weak or dysfunctional about seeking psychotherapy, the contrary is true. The dysfunction lies in the space where help is needed and available and it’s not sought. Here are some common reasons some people seek psychotherapy,
  1. Grief/Loss
  2. Relationship issues
  3. Self-reflection
  4. Empowerment/Self Esteem
  5. Stress/ Coping strategies
  6. Anger management
  7. Addiction (sex, drugs, alcohol, food)
  8. Change of Career
My hope is that you feel empowered to get the help that you need as Dr. Stevens does. After being educated Dr. Stevens continues to feel uneasy when seen by others in my waiting area however he continues to come weekly and has referred several other clients. Do not allow the stigma attached to mental illness to deter you from taking care of yourself. If you have a need you should address it. Seeking mental health treatment is much like seeking treatment for any other ailment that you are diagnosed with (diabetes/high blood pressure). Remember, no one is perfect; we ALL need some type of support to live our best lives. Show your smarts, reach out and take care of your mental health needs.

*Name has been changed

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