Today’s post is a little excerpt of my experience with therapy+ some of the benefits that come along with it.
Back in the day, the word therapy was so taboo, especially within the black community. If you dare utter the word, you were laughed at, called crazy, or told that it’s not for black people (inserts mind-boggling gif). As someone who’s had depression before and has anxiety, this kinda scared me and therefore always had it in my head that I must be coo-coo for cocoa puffs if I ever sought out therapy. I really wish I had not internalized those misguided sayings/advice and had started therapy earlier. Thankfully, I took the leap of faith at the end of 2020 and decided to look for a therapist. I had not the slightest clue where to start, neither did I know what I should be looking for exactly. I started googling “therapists near me” and they were either ridiculously expensive or I just didn’t feel led in my spirit to contact any of them.
Finally, in November, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts “Black Girl Therapy” and found out that they had a website called “Therapy for Black Girls”, which helped you find therapists near you. I was ecstatic. I immediately got to searching and after weeding through the list, I landed upon my now therapist. I immediately emailed her and asked if she was seeing new clients. Thankfully she was, we discussed payment, what it was I was seeking therapy for, and what day and time we would meet. Since it was the height of the pandemic, I was able to do telephonic sessions which were fine by me. The therapy I get is psychotherapy aka talk therapy. My therapist encourages open dialogue and we talk about stressors in my life and she provides me with tools to help combat those stressors and manage the symptoms of anxiety etc. Suffice to say, my experience has been great thus far and my therapist has helped me in more ways than one.
Benefits of therapy
- Learn life-long coping skills: I’ve always considered myself a good communicator; however, I learned communication techniques which has helped me tremendously in creating boundaries with people, which was something I’d struggled with doing.
- Objective advice: oftentimes we have a person or people we go to for solicited advice; however, it may not always be what you need to hear. With a therapist, it is literally their job to see things from an objective angle and provide professional advice for whatever problem you may be dealing with.
- Nonjudgmental: There are a handful of people I can talk to without feeling judged. If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, a therapist can be that person for you. They listen to what you have to say without judgment.
- Leads to greater self-understanding/acceptance: opening up to my therapist about my past experiences and trauma opened my eyes to myself in a new way. It helped me understand why I do certain things, how I coped with certain situations etc. I was able to dig deeper into myself.
- Helps improve chronic stress: 😮💨 The first 6 months of 2021 I was in a chronic state of stress. It got so bad that my body reacted negatively at the slightest sign of negativity. It was TERRIBLE and I wish that on no one. My therapist was able to help me combat chronic stress by recommending several different things, especially self-care. Doing things that made me happy and at peace.
- Helps validate your feelings: I don’t know about you but I hate it when other people try to make it seem like my feelings aren’t valid. A therapist is like a soundboard and he or she will remind you that your feelings are valid. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not a yes man, instead, they let you know that whatever it is you feel about your situation is important and that your thoughts are valuable.
- Learn to resolve conflict: This helps you learn how to set healthy boundaries with others, whether it’s family members, romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships, etc. It teaches you ways in which you can be direct about your needs and wants.
- Dismantle negative thought patterns: I think at some point or another, we’ve all dealt with negative thinking. Due to the trauma I experienced, mine had developed into negative obsessive thinking. At one point in time, it felt like I didn’t know how to think positively and that is a mentally scary place to be. Thankfully with the help of my therapist and learning new strategies, I was able to rid myself of it.
Myth buster: Only “crazy” people get therapy. I really wish people would stop saying that.
Truth is, nothing has to be “wrong” with you in order to seek therapy. You can have all your shit together and still see a therapist. If you’re thinking about it, go for it and don’t let anyone talk you out of it. If anything, a lot more people can benefit from it. In addition to the reasons listed above, therapy can help you better prepare for any of life’s curveballs. It helps you break generational cycles, It helps shape your perspective of others (in a good way), the physical symptoms you experience goes away (at least for me it did). In case you didn’t know, your mental health affects your physical health. If you’re experiencing mental health issues, they can and will manifest in your body, so take proper care of your mind. Therapy helps with anxiety, depression, obsessions/compulsions, etc. It helps to change unhealthy thought and action patterns, overcome past and current traumas, and helps with increasing productivity.
I encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to give it a try.