By: Nadia Jimenez MSW, LCSW
Before therapy was accepted, support was found amongst friends, family members, and the community. Uncle Jack, your best friend or the cleric were the ones giving advice, often culturally deterring us from talking about our issues. The times of seeking “help” as being a weakness have changed drastically. Today, seeking therapy is accepted, celebrities, well-known writers, athletes and politicians have opened up publicly about their struggles and treatment for an array of issues from depression to chronic shoplifting. Therapy is now seen as a positive step towards emotional recovery. Society’s inevitable evolution considering the economic status, increased divorce rates, dysfunctional upbringing and more socio-economical factors have allowed the recognition for professional advice to be seen as a sign of strength. It is interpreted as a form of determination to live a productive and meaningful life.
Identifying goals and collaborating with your therapist to ensure progress on the goals is a vital component of the therapeutic relationship. It’s the simplicity of that agenda along with a consistent schedule, confidentiality and trust that make this unique relationship work so well for people. In therapy the following three elements are guaranteed:
- Safety guarantees that the relationship is appropriate so one can reveal fears, dreams, and fantasies without the trepidation of repercussions or judgment from the therapist. Unlike the traditional friend or family member, your words to a therapist will not come back to haunt you.
- Confidentiality makes certain that one’s private thoughts are not revealed. The laws and ethics of confidentiality assures the client/counselor relationship is not compromised
- Learning allows therapy to be seen as a deeply educational experience. The therapist acts like an instructor or teacher to help the client see the world, inner and outer, in new positive ways.
The state of vulnerability acts as road block to many people seeking help. It hurts to admit we are vulnerable and for many it is seen as being weak, helpless, and open to attack by others. In therapy there can be beauty in vulnerability and value in exploring these so called “weaknesses”. By exploring our fears we can turn our vulnerability into strengths. It is often helpful to work with a therapist whom you feel a comfortable connection and makes you feel understood.
Grief, loss, anger, financial hardship, relationship problems and stress are all a normal part of life, so is seeking professional help when these burdens become too much to cope with. However, it is the very process of building a trusting relationship and the safety to release your feelings, good and bad ones that will finally allow you to make lasting, positive changes in your life.