Breaking down therapy stereotypes!
Hi there, welcome back to my blog posts, thank you so much for checking them out, it means a lot to me. I'm really enjoying sharing some of my insights into the way I work and what therapy can feel like for different people. But there's still a lot we don't know about what people assume of therapy, as sadly it still feels like a taboo topic. I know for most people it would feel easier to tell your friend you were going to physio than counselling.
With this mind I posted a number of polls over on my personal Instagram. My past lecturers would probably be cursing me as this obviously isn't the best way to conduct 'research'. For example the demographic of my followers are many people who have never been to therapy (or not that I'm aware of I guess) so may have a different view point to those that have had counselling sessions before. But this felt helpful to explore because one of my overall aims in the profession I'm in, is not to just help those I work with, but also help to break down the stigma of accessing counselling and mental health overall, so that over time more people access therapy and feel better in themselves.
I was really intrigued to hear everyone's responses and have kept all written messages to me anonymous to protect everyone's confidentiality. Thank you again to everyone who voted! Let's get started and see what results were produced.
The first question I asked was: 'The thought of going to therapy makes me feel...' to which the following answers were submitted:
Anxious (appeared twice in the responses)
Getting the helping hand you need
That I'm self-caring and giving myself a big hug when needed
Apprehensive and interested at the same time
Thank you to everyone who bravely shared their inner thoughts and feelings on this one. Are there any that you notice you agree with in response to this question? One thing I have noticed is there were more 'positive or comfortable' feelings associated with going to therapy that were shared. Is this because people felt more comfortable to share these than answers such as 'anxious or vulnerable?' What are your thoughts on this?
I then created statements where people could choose a 'yes or no' or 'correct or incorrect' answer, as follows:
'The thought of therapy is scary'
Yes: 45% (21 votes) No: 55% (26 votes)
I wonder how this percentage would have looked 10 years ago and 10 years into the future?
'The thought of therapy is exciting'
Yes: 51% (23 votes) No: 49% (22 votes)
This was extremely close. Do you feel excited at the prospect of starting therapy?
'Therapy feels like it will be a challenging process'
Yes: 85% (40 votes) No: 15% (7 votes)
The majority voted that therapy does feel like it will be challenging. Personally I would agree with this, it is challenging to be open and vulnerable but that is often when the best changes can happen therapeutically. What do you think?
'There must be something wrong with me to go to therapy'
Yes: 38% (18 votes) No: 62% (29 votes)
Starting therapy can be because you are struggling to manage something in your life that you are simply reacting to. You are noticing your human responses which feel difficult and that perhaps you need therapeutic support in order to feel and process these reactions/feelings. This does not mean there is something wrong with you, you are simply human! What are your thoughts?
'If I started therapy I probably wouldn't tell anyone about it'
Correct: 47% (21 votes) Incorrect: 53% (24 votes)
Again a very close result for this one. What impact do you think it would have if more people normalised going to therapy and told their friends about it? Again going back to the start of this blog would this percentage be different if going to physio was in the question? I imagine so. Would you tell anybody about it? Why or why not?
'Therapy should be a last resort'
Yes: 6% (3 votes) No: 94% (45 votes)
This was definitely more of a landslide result. I have to agree with the 94% personally. Therapy never has to be a last resort. Early intervention into supporting people's mental health can reduce the impact of the difficulties on that person, and most significantly it can save lives.
'If I knew my loved ones went to therapy it would encourage me to go'
Yes: 78% (32 votes) No: 22% (9 votes)
The majority of people in this result felt more empowered or encouraged to go to therapy if their loved ones also went. Perhaps a shared experience, a permission that therapy is okay and normal may all help reduce stigma and contribute to people making that first step.
'Therapy is important in life'
Yes: 93% (39 votes) No: 7% (3 votes)
I admit I am biased in this question. But of course I believe therapy is hugely important in life! I wouldn't be in this profession if I didn't believe that. Therapy helps us discover and understand ourselves better, can improve our coping mechanisms, heal childhood trauma, improve our relationships and even save our life. Do you feel it is important?
'Therapy is only for support around significant events that have happened'
Yes: 16% (7 votes) No: 84% (36 votes)
No you do not need to experience a traumatic or significant event in your life in order to then receive therapeutic support. Therapy can be to improve aspects of yourself you perhaps don't love, like your lack of motivation or communication with others, it can be seen as self-care just like how other people enjoy going for massages, therapy can be to help better understand yourself or maybe improve your relationships. Going back to my first blog, 'therapy does not have to be based in trauma'.
'It is brave to go to therapy'
Yes: 100% (42 votes)
The only answer in this poll that received a 100% response - this time being 'yes'. I couldn't agree more. It is extremely brave to go to therapy. Sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with someone you have never met can be a daunting process. Saying out loud your fears. I am so humbled by clients who say to me 'I have never told anyone else this before in my life'. That is immensely brave. To quote Nelson Mandela 'I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear'.
'To me therapy would fall under self-care'
Yes: 95% (41 votes) No: 5% (2 votes)
Self-care is anything you do just for yourself that makes you feel better afterwards than you did before hand. It is so subjective, it can look like so many things for so many different people. What does your self-care look like? Would therapy fall under this?
These are just my thoughts based upon my professional and personal experiences, I am so open to everyone's thoughts on all of the above, as this is so subjective. There cannot therefore be a universally right or wrong answer to each one, I have just shared what I personally feel about each question.
Again a huge, huge thank you to everyone who felt able to vote and share their responses with me. It was so interesting to see every vote. Would you like to see more polls in the future? Click the heart button at the bottom of this page if you would like to see more polls or if you enjoyed reading the results and my thoughts on them.
Thank you for reading.
Look after yourself today,