Asking for help: The Stigma of Therapy
By Aqsa Farooqui
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word "happy" would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
-Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, 1875-1961.
Often during our lives we come across adversity, which could be the death of a loved one, a loss of a significant relationship or being fired from our job. In these difficult times we often feel hopeless and alone. Sometimes, talking to someone who is an outsider or a stranger is beneficial. A therapist is someone who provides a safe environment to discuss our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and offers the opportunity to discuss the challenges that we all come across in life.
Listed below are some concerns that people may have about therapy:
1. Only "crazy" people enter therapy.
In reality, we all go through phases in our life that are challenging and difficult. Counseling provides a place and time where we can discuss the concerns we have about our life.
2.If I enter therapy, everyone will find out about my problems.
The code of ethics for mental health professionals protects every individual's right to privacy except in cases of mandated reporting of child abuse, suicide and homicide.
3. How can I talk to a stranger about my problems? What will I say to them?
A therapist's job involves listening to each client's concerns with an open mind. A client is open to discuss their apprehensions about therapy with the therapist and can stop therapy if they feel that they are not happy with their counselor.
4. When can I consider therapy as an option?
Feeling stressed out, helpless or hopeless; anxiety issues; difficulty with relationships; identity issues; and abuse-related issues are all reasons to consider entering therapy.
5. Who can provide therapy?
Psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists are all licensed to provide therapy, but only psychiatrists can prescribe medication.
6. What happens during therapy?
Each psychotherapist practices therapy differently. Most therapists encourage clients to discuss thoughts, feelings and emotions, past events that affect them today and interpersonal concerns that they may have about their current personal or professional relationships. Also therapists may assign "homework", use art to discuss feelings and emotions or help each client establish goals to work on.
Counseling sessions are generally 50 minutes to an hour long and held weekly. People can come to as few as 3 sessions and to as many as 100 sessions or more. Counseling can be done individually, with your family or as a group.
Hopefully this article has increased understanding about the process of counseling and clarified some of the myths surrounding it. If you are interested in finding out more about counseling, please call Raksha at :(404)842-0725.,visit us on the web at www.raksha.org, or email us at Raksha@mindspring.com. Aqsa is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor/Advocate who has been employed at Raksha since 2001.
Dr. Harjee, your host for this column, is a board certified Internist in private practice with graduate and post-graduate training from Emory University, Atlanta. Her interests lie in Holistic and Preventive Medicine. She can be reached at (404) 501-7444.
NOTE: Since treatment varies with each individual, you must consult a Physician before acting on any advice given in this column.
Neither the Publisher, nor the Physician is liable for information provided.
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