What do you think of when you hear the word therapist? More than likely, you think of someone at their breaking point who needs to speak with a professional about their situation. Therapy has an unfortunate stigma surrounding it that makes people embarrassed or ashamed of speaking about it; it’s almost like speaking about therapy is admitting a weakness that you have. Contrary to popular belief, therapy isn’t a sign of failure. That’s far from the truth: in reality, everyone needs therapy, including therapists themselves.
Therapists offer an objective and unbiased view of your life, showing you things that you cannot see clearly by yourself. In high-stress situations, strong emotions can confuse you and make you react poorly to the issue at hand, sometimes leading to a course of action that isn’t the healthiest for you. Everyone can benefit from seeing an effective therapist to some degree or another.
Therapy, for example, isn’t crisis management. It’s not something you go to in case of an emergency—it’s supposed to be there to help you avoid crisis situations in the first place. Many people fail to realize that therapy is equally beneficial to those in a healthy and well-balanced life as it is to those in their lowest moments. Mental health is just as important to maintain as physical health is—you don’t stop going to the gym just because you’re physically fit, do you? You don’t stop going to the doctor for check-ups just because you feel physically healthy, either. Therapists address your mental health both when you’re ill and when you’re well, making sure that your mental, emotional, and interpersonal world stays well.
Some people believe they don’t need a therapist because they already have a support system with their friends and family. While having a support system is wonderful, your loved ones more than likely aren’t trained experts in mental health, communication, or relationships. Like seeing a physical doctor, you need to see a professional with years of expertise and training for your mental wellness, not to your friends and family. While they may be well-intentioned and have good advice, nothing will compare to talking with someone who is knowledgeable in this field.
Generally, friends and family aren’t objective about the situations in your life. This is why therapists (and doctors in general) are critical in taking care of your well-being: they can draw boundaries that friends and family cannot, remaining unbiased and impartial so they can give you more accurate advice and views on both yourself and your situation. Additionally, relying too heavily on loved ones for emotional matters outside of their capacity can alienate them rather than help either of you. Leave the responsibility of your emotional struggles to an objective therapist so you can maintain healthy relationships with your loved ones.
Based in Somerville, MA, Josh Bartok is a photographer and published author with years of practice and experience. He worked as the Executive Editor of Wisdom Publications from 2000 to 2021, where he edited over 300 books for adults and children. Josh’s photography is based on his Zen meditation practices: a practice of presence, continual openness to the world as it is, and all the rich moments that life has to offer. His photographs are taken without judgment or commentary to reflect his values; by doing this, Josh hopes that his work will help people see luminous beauty in the most unexpected of places.