I'm seeing a therapist...
One of my very close friends has recently begun work with a therapist in order to deal with some long standing issues that he's had within relationships.
How do I know this? Because he told me. Now, seeing as I am a therapist myself, it might seem very natural that he inform me regarding the work that he's doing...but it did get me thinking about some of the potential pitfalls of announcing to those around us that we are visiting a therapist.
Thankfully, I believe that we are past the dark days of feeling ashamed of the fact that we might need to actually take care of our mental health in a similar way to our physical health; but a downside of this acceptance of the benefits of therapy is that we can become too open with regards to what happens within the four walls of our therapy room.
Having analysed my conversations with my friend regarding his therapy I have noticed that it is always him that brings it up and, having brought it up, he proceeds to outline some of the key discoveries that he and his therapist have made. At such a point I find myself giving my views on such discoveries (as a friend rather than as a therapist) and, before we know it, we are together re-enacting his therapy session together.
So what is the problem? The problem is that the therapy space is a safe and unpolluted one wherein the presuppositions of the outside world are muted. In the therapy room, we are removed from 'friends' who, subconsciously, may not want us to change and from habitual patterns which may facilitate our self-defeating behaviours. In other words, therapy supplies a space that is separate from life in order that we may analyse events within our life objectively - once we start bringing our therapy into the world vocally we open ourselves up to feedback which may undermine that very therapy.
Getting back to my friend: he went to therapy to address attachment issues that have plagued his relationships, and which particularly came to light in the aftermath of his last break-up; when he began to inform his friends of this their reply was, 'You should just get back on Tinder and start dating again'. My friend, for a good few days, began to see this as the solution: scrap therapy and forget about the deeper psychological issues and find another person to get attached to. The people who gave such advice are not malicious nor vindictive, but by opening up his therapy to an unqualified audience he actually invited unhelpful answers which may appear valid seeing as they come from a familiar mouth.
Therapy is your space and it is not something that should be broadcast into the very environment which may have helped to shape the presenting issues. We come to therapy to find a fresh light and to leave stronger than when we entered it; in order to achieve these objectives, we must allow the therapy to remain somewhat sacred so that those around us can see what we have gained from therapy, rather than hear about it and comment on it.
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