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Does Therapy Need a Makeover?

549877_426885014065930_1556606199_nI’m on a mission to convey to people everywhere that working on your emotional life is a positive and useful endeavor that yields good results.

I may have my work cut out for me. I have a deep concern that most people have negative associations with words like therapy or mental health.

Essentially, I worry that people think they are healthy as long as they don’t “need” to go to therapy. Therapy is seen as evidence of illness, instead of a way to accomplish wellness.

I love what I do. My day tends to be uplifting, fun, interesting, inspiring and motivating. The fabulous clients I work with do come for depression, anxiety, trauma, anger, and other issues. I listen, empathize, and validate feelings.

The work, however, is focused on finding ways to make life feel better and more fulfilling.

Through conversation, education, reflection and connection, I help people find ways to look at their situations in a more helpful way and take actions that increase their life satisfaction. It’s a pretty great way to make a living.

Still, when I think about “mental health” as a topic or as a profession, it seems heavy and a bit yucky. Even I don’t like it’s reputation, and I’m happily in the field.

I want this to change. We can find ways to be happier, healthier, and wiser. We can work on ourselves not because we are sick, but because we want to be well.

I believe that my calling is to find some way to communicate on a large scale that we need to focus on our emotional well-being. I want emotional wellness to be a topic that we all talk about and teach our children.

I’m not sure what it will take. New words? A whole new system? New options? I need your help so that I can figure out how to fulfill my mission. Please share your thoughts:

What do you really think about therapy? Have you ever thought about ways to improve your emotional wellness? Am I right? Is there a PR issue here? What would make it more appealing? How do I convince people that investing in emotional well-being is truly a positive thing and not an admission of defect? 

POSTED: 8 Mar, 2013

TAGS: counseling , mental health , psychotherapy , therapy , wellness

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11 responses to “Does Therapy Need a Makeover?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more! I think therapy is life-changing, always helpful and often absolutely necessary. I have been in therapy several times, first when I was in high school and more recently as an adult, both times to deal with severe anxiety. I was warned by some family members not to share this experience, though I’m not sure why. Was it because others would worry about me unnecessarily? Or because it was “bad” to need therapy? Perhaps it makes other family members feel that they haven’t done their job properly?

    In spite of that warning I have always been open about how helpful therapy has been to me, and have recommended it to everyone. I even joke that I haven’t done my job as a parent if my children don’t need therapy! 🙂

    We can go to the gym to work out and eat good food to get healthier without feeling “defective” first…why can’t we think of our mental and emotional well-being in the same way? Even if you’re mostly doing it right, there is always room for improvement.

    • Hannah says:

      Thank you so much for your comments, Emily. We really need to stop having shame about wanting to address our emotional health. It’s important and helpful. It really should be common sense. I wonder if there is more that the profession can do to help people understand the value? That’s what I want to do. To really find ways that make it easy and acceptable to work on our emotional well-being.

  2. I feel like the mental health field could use a good re-branding. Our image of what therapy is needs to be reframed. The biggest challenge is that most therapists aren’t as eloquent as you are when it comes to reframing these thoughts and images of mental health. I love that you are taking this problem head on, Hannah!

  3. Hannah says:

    Thanks, Jennifer. I think someone (or many people!) need to do something. I’d like to see what I can do. It’s a challenge, but I have the energy to try to contribute. I hope to get as much feedback as possible. I’m in it so it’s hard for me to know exactly what people think. That’s the spirit of my asking readers for their honest thought. I appreciate the feedback very much.

  4. raj kandathi says:

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you had to say above. I also feel this is a universal problem i.e. it’s treated the same in all cultures. A lot of people work on themselves but may not realize that its self therapy and may not even be open to the idea of visiting a therapist. Maybe re-working on the system of “visiting a therapist” to something else be a good idea.

    The new words is something that I constantly work on. For e.g. I love the word “hope” but am trying to avoid using the words “hope/hopefully” because most of the times when I use them in a sentence, they indirectly affect my confidence.

  5. jakers19 says:

    I think you are the answer to your questions, Hannah. This is the first post of your’s that I’ve read and, not having ever given much thought to therapy, you have me thinking. I will be going through your older posts now, but in the meantime, my knee-jerk reaction is that by providing an approachable lesson of what therapy is in today’s world and what it can be in the future as new minds/ideas are brought into the fold, you can be the guide, the visionary, in the evolution. In essence, I realize that you are looking for collaborative input, but just from my quick read of this post – I think that you must already have some ideas, to which I say – run with them – try them out!

  6. Hannah says:

    Thank you so much for the comments. I do have some ideas of what can be done about this problem and I want to make sure that my thought are in line with people’s experiences. I’m in the research phase of getting my ideas together.

    But I do appreciate the encouragement to “run with them.” I think that’s good advice!

  7. Zabe says:

    I love your approach to therapy, Hannah. It’s true that people see it as a place one goes when one is ill or damaged. Not so, I say! Go because we all need a little objectivity in order to improve. Or a professional eye. Or a neutral shoulder. Or just a kick in the pants. And the more we talk about these aspects of therapy rather than the stigma of being unwell or unstable, the more likely we are to reach this place you’re trying to go. Refreshing post.

  8. Mariel Espejo says:

    HI Hanna. Congrats for your blog! I have read already some of them and loved your insights about each topic since I can related to. I subscribed!.

    About this post, It’s true about the conception of “therapy” may mislead for some people. In Venezuela, it happens! I decided to go to therapy until I moved to US and It has helped me tremendously!! I

    I think one way could be providing information on what’s therapy about and how can help to many people on so many ways/situations/problems- providing examples and case studies – this way those people may feel familiar and relate to it so they may consider to visit therapy! just thoughts 😉

    Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks, Mariel. I think that each person who shares their positive experience with therapy helps show the world that working on our emotional well-being is a good thing! Thanks for commenting and sharing.

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