Many people think that going to counselling or therapy is an admission of weakness. I say it’s a sign of strength and courage. It’s admitting when we need help; when we are stuck.
When I was a young mother and struggling with self-esteem, parenting, marriage issues and lots of family-of-origin baggage someone reached out to a group of young mums I was a part of and offered to meet with anyone who felt they would like some support. It was a bit scary to admit I needed help, but looking back I’m so proud of the younger me for finding the courage. I think by that point I was just so desperate for life to change. My sessions with this woman were just the beginning.
Four years and many struggles later my husband and I began dreaming about getting out of New Zealand to work in a foreign country as part of a missions team. The church we attended at the time required us to have a psych evaluation to help them decide if we were a good risk and worth their financial support. Consequently, after filling in lots of forms, we ended up in the office of a psychotherapist. Best thing ever!
FOUR BENEFITS I’VE EXPERIENCED FROM PSYCHOTHERAPY OVER THE LAST 4+ YEARS:
I still remember the feeling I had as my husband and I walked out of the psychotherapist’s office that first day. We had been validated as a couple and felt, for the first time in a long while, that we were okay. Peter (name changed) made us feel that we were on track, our intuition was good and our plans had merit. We both left there with a little spring in our step.
We had been struggling for years with issues with both sets of parents and we soon made an appointment to go back to the psychotherapist about my parents in particular. I’d been trying to make peace with hurtful memories from my past and I shared one of these with Peter. It was a story of shame from when I was just ten years old. I was embarrassed and it was hard for me to tell it, but I’ll always remember the incredible feeling of validation that came when I saw Peter’s jaw drop.
We discussed my experience and for the first time I realized that it really wasn’t my fault. My parents had royally screwed up in the way they had handled the situation. Just having someone professionally trained tell me that I wasn’t bad was incredibly healing. I can now look back on what for years was a very painful memory and feel peace.
2. Belief in Myself
Having someone validating my feelings and intuition gave me the courage to get to work in my own time. I asked for recommendations of books I could read and after reading Changes That Heal by Dr Henry Cloud (good for anyone who has been raised in a Christian environment) I sought out others on my own. I love that once I became open to learning books, blog posts and conversations seemed to come to my attention/happen just when I needed them…and still do.
Having Peter show me (by the way he listened, heard (got me) and validated me) I was worth something gave me the belief that I was worth investing time in.
3. Motivation to Grow for the Sake of my Children
As a result of reading and continuing to work on understanding my past I came to the realization two years ago that I had suffered mental, spiritual and emotional abuse from my narcissistic mother, both during childhood and into young adulthood. Very soon I was saying to my therapist, “How can I avoid damaging my children in the same way?” His answer (as I’ve written in an earlier post) was: “The best thing you can do for your children is to work on yourself.”
I know what it’s like to live with insecurity, fear, conditional love, lack of emotional support, lack of confidence, etc. This year has been a year of discovering more about who I am and who I want to be. Finally, in my thirty-eighth year, I have figured out that it’s okay to be authentically me. I want my children to leave home already knowing who they are, being comfortable in their own skin, and confident in their individual abilities and gifts. This is huge motivation for me to continue to unpack my past even though it can be painful and emotionally draining at times.
4. Better Communication with my Husband
Last year I found myself growing internally in leaps and bounds and the gap between my awareness and my husband’s awareness was widening. I was feeling very emotionally disconnected from him and nothing I was saying was making sense to him or getting us anywhere. We were struggling with issues that had been present our entire marriage, namely our opposing communication styles and his obsession with computer gaming.
I got to the point where I no longer had the energy to put into improving our relationship on my own. I went to Peter and explained how I saw things and then hubby and I attended 6 sessions of psychotherapy together. Yes, I had to sweet talk him into it, but by the end he was thanking me for organizing it. Peter was able to spot unhealthy patterns that had developed in our relationship and give us pointers as to how to change them. He helped hubby to understand himself more too and why he felt most refreshed when on his own, hence the gaming.
We’ve continued to learn and grow together since then, we just needed a tune up to help us get back in sync!
I’m so excited to be on the verge of embarking on my own journey to becoming a psychotherapist. I’ve just found a psychotherapist here in England in preparation for beginning a counselling course in the new year. I haven’t felt stuck lately and likely wouldn’t have considered spending money on therapy if it wasn’t for the course. However, it’s become quite clear in my first two sessions that there is a lot more work to be done! Instead of seeking help for my son it makes sense for me to be supported in my role as his mother. It’s really comforting to have found someone to support me both through the 3 year course and my continued journey of healing and personal growth.
My parting thoughts on this subject…you are worth an investment in therapy! Not only will you benefit by learning to love and understand yourself more, but those around you will benefit too! If you’d like to start looking for a therapist, you might want to follow this link: How to Find the Right Therapist.
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.” ― David Richo