Therapy often has a bad connotation. Many people associate therapy with being “crazy.” By crazy, I mean someone who may experience delusions or engage in highly erratic behavior. I have heard a plethora of people avoid going to therapy simply because they believe “it’s for crazy people.”
This is especially true in the African American community as “being strong” is highly valued in the culture. One reason is that African Americans have a history of slavery in which it was required for them to be mentally strong. Therefore, many African Americans in today’s time may see therapy as a weakness because our ancestors went through worse. Through all of this, I adapted the belief that therapy was for “crazy people” because I heard that phrase so many times. However, my thoughts of therapy changed when I started receiving therapeutic services myself.
When I first started college, I began to experience anxious and depressive episodes. I was struggling to cope with the stresses of college. I didn’t know what to do to reach a healthy mental state again. A professor of mine recommended that I stop by the counseling services on campus. At first, I was a little iffy about going because of the stigma I experienced around therapy, but I was at an all-time low and I did not know what else to do.
I felt surprisingly comfortable walking into my first therapy appointment. The environment was very welcoming. The staff was extremely nice. Also, I noticed familiar faces in the counseling lobby. I was not the only one out of my friend group that thought it was a good idea to seek out professional mental help. That was the first time I realized that therapy wasn’t for “crazy people” but rather the everyday person utilizes therapy.
It was hard opening up to my therapist the first time I went, but towards the end of the session I started to feel a bit more comfortable. I even felt relieved because I got a lot of my feelings off my chest. In the end, my outlook on therapy has definitely changed. Now, I see therapy as a healthy emotional outlet for all people. I no longer believe therapy is just for “crazy” people.
Do you attend therapy? If so, was there anything that initially stopped you from going? Why do you think it’s hard for people to start therapy?