Not too long ago, seeking help from a psychologist was considered shameful. It was an admission that you were crazy, weak-willed or sick. So, you kept your problems to yourself, you suppressed your emotions, you just sucked it up the best you could. After all, you didn’t want to be labeled crazy! Only if it was absolutely necessary, did you speak to your family doctor or clergyman who often tried to help but didn’t really have the tools to do so.
Today, however, much has changed. Most (though not all) people recognize that psychologists provide tangible tools for enhancing relationships, resolving conflict, expressing emotions, altering harmful habits, quelling anxiety and more - much more. And seeking help from a psychologist doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. Indeed, it probably indicates that you're smart, savvy and sensible.
Thanks to research, psychology has made great strides in understanding and treating widespread psychological problems such as feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, as well as relationship problems such as troubled communication, control and intimacy issues. Today, these syndromes can be cured, managed or greatly relieved with appropriate treatment.
Yet, it’s important to know that the field of psychology is not only focused on treating disorders. Its major mission is to increase the understanding of human behavior, so as to make people’s lives more fulfilling. As Dr. Marty Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, said, “Psychology is not just the study of weakness and damage, it is also the study of strength and virtue. Treatment is not just fixing what is broken; it is nurturing what is best within ourselves.”
If you seek out psychotherapy, it does not mean you are crazy. It does not mean you are sick. It does not mean something’s wrong with you. It probably means you have questions, are seeking answers, desire understanding, and/or wish to become more self-confident, resilient, creative in dealing with life and its inevitable stresses.
As people get older, they often look back on their lives and think, who knows what my life might have been -- if only I knew what I know now. What if I had the confidence to believe in myself? What if I had been less scared, more resilient? What if I had taken a risk instead of settling for what was easy?
So, don’t wait to seek out help from a psychologist if you’d like to dig deeper into who you are: your attitudes, emotions, behavior, dreams, hopes, relationships. Or, if you would cherish ideas on how to manage conflict, anger, fear, sadness in a more resourceful way.
Once you’ve had a good experience with psychotherapy, not only will you end up feeling smarter and stronger about the issues you face, your energy level and physical health will likely take a turn for the better. As my therapist once commented, problems will always be with you. However, you will feel so much happier if you have a better set of problems to deal with for the rest of your life.