We live in a society where even mentioning the word therapy will cause people to judge you and think that you’re crazy. However, I’m here to tell you that we are not crazy! I’ve sought counseling on two separate occasions — I went once to seek help with managing my depression and anxiety, and I went with my fiance’ for nearly three months of weekly pre-marital counseling. Going to speak to a licensed professional was the best decision I could have made for both my mental health and for my soon-to-be marriage. In this blog, I want to share my experience with therapy a little more in-depth while debunking some of the myths that I found online. Note: I will be using therapy and counseling interchangeably.
Myth #1: Going to therapy makes you weak.
On the contrary, admitting that you might need counseling makes you strong, and actually going to counseling to seek help makes you even stronger! It takes a lot to let a stranger into your life and to analyze parts of your past that you want to just forget. If you think you may need counseling but are scared that people will think you are less than what you really are, just remember that it takes so much courage to open up, and you’ll be a better person in the end.
Myth #2: Therapists have to be emotionally unattached, so they can’t fully understand my problems, and I just can’t relate to them.
Some therapists can be emotionally unattached and may want to only focus on you and your problems, but not all of them are like that. My fiance’ and I went to Center for Healthy Families at the University of Maryland College Park, and we had two very nice therapists who made us feel comfortable sharing with them. In our first session together, we played a card game where each of us had to pick four questions from the pile and ask them to the group. This was a very effective and great way to break the ice and get to know each of our therapists while they learned more about us as well. Over the course of the sessions, we developed a close relationship with them. We laughed together, shed tears together, and really let ourselves be emotionally vulnerable in a shared, safe space.
Myth #3: Counseling is too expensive and is just a complete waste of money!
I’m not a spokesperson for Center for Healthy Families, and I’m definitely not getting paid to talk about them in this blog, but this really is a great place to go for counseling. They charge a fee that is solely based on your income, so they make it affordable for each person. I also called my insurance to see how much I would have to pay out of pocket at a local counseling place, and it was more than what I had to pay at UMD. So, I encourage you to do your research to find an affordable place that meets your financial and personal needs!
Honestly, I can’t speak for everyone, but my experience with counseling was certainly not a waste of money. When I went to go see about the depression and anxiety, I didn’t have to pay anything because it was already included in my tuition. However, we did have to pay for pre-marital counseling, and it was the best $40 a week we ever spent. We were able to learn more about ourselves as individuals and learn more about each other, too! We even created two separate family trees to explore different habits (both good and bad) that have been passed down to us and discuss how these habits may be affecting our relationship. We even learned how to be more effective listeners and communicators, which has definitely improved our relationship.
Myth #4: You’re only supposed to stay in therapy for a certain amount of time.
When I went to therapy to seek help with my depression and anxiety, I only went for one session because that’s all I needed. In that session, my therapist was able to help me make the connection between an event that happened in my past and my mental health. We went over healthy and safe ways to manage those feelings, and I left feeling a lot better. Personally, I didn’t need a second session, but there’s always the option to do more if needed.
When we went to pre-marital counseling, I believe we had to do at least 6 weeks of therapy before we could stop the sessions. However, the sessions were so great and helpful that we wanted to extend our time — as mentioned previously, we ended up staying for almost three months. Decide for yourself whether or not you need more counseling, and make that decision based on what is best for you.
Myth #5: You only go to therapy when things are really bad.
Not true! Not true! Not true! When I went to therapy for my mental health, it was for preventive reasons. It was my first semester back in college after a 3-year gap, and I wanted to make sure I could manage my depression and anxiety while dealing with school. When we went for pre-marital counseling, it wasn’t because our relationship was really bad and needed fixing before we got married. In fact, when we researched counseling places, our relationship was probably the best that it had ever been. We went to pre-marital counseling to make sure that we had all of the right tools to have a healthy marriage. I’d never seen a healthy marriage before, so I wasn’t sure that I’d make a good wife. However, with help from my therapists at Center for Healthy Families, I learned so much, and I feel ready to be a wife.
Remember that therapy is an important part of closing an old chapter in your life and pushing on to a new one. It’s certainly not required in your journey, but it really does help if you allow yourself to be vulnerable.
“In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow