Therapy Isn’t a Dirty Word
🎵Hey, Come Sit on Mama Couch🎵
I recently sat down with my elementary school friend, Stacy Kinzler, to talk mental health for #MentalHealthAwarnessMonth. She is an advocate for diminishing the stigma of mental health issues and I thought she was perfect to shed light on the subject!
This is what she had to say in our two part blog series…
If you’d asked me 15 years ago what I’d be doing today, I would’ve been dead wrong! At that time I was single, no kids and in college finishing my degree in art education. My-my, how things have changed! I never even stepped foot in a classroom & life handed me some things that left me in a small (ok, LARGE) heap of a mess. I struggled, went through a deep depression and finally realized I needed help, BAD! So, I reached out for therapy. That experience--going to therapy--was incredibly helpful during the darkest period in my life. Once I got through that stage and began to heal, I decided I wanted to do something with my life to help others. I ended up going to grad school to become a psychotherapist, and today have my own counseling practice in North Little Rock, AR.
Here are some things I‘ve learned along the way.
5 TRUTHS I’VE LEARNED AS A THERAPIST
1. There isn’t a person on the planet that doesn’t deserve healing.
Every single person walking around on our planet has been hurt. Maybe it was childhood trauma, or maybe a bad relationship in adulthood, or loss of a loved one. The list is never ending. Sometimes, all of these painful experiences add up, and push us past our threshold for what we can emotionally tolerate. Our experiences don’t just vanish because we don’t think about them anymore, they are woven into the fiber of our being. If we never take time to address what life has handed us, we WILL feel the effects eventually. I have never met a client who doesn’t deserve the chance to heal. Once you sit down with someone, hear their story, and connect with them, it becomes impossible to not feel compassion. The best part is walking with them through the pain to the other side, and seeing them thrive.
2. Medication can be a glorious thing. And sometimes it isn’t.
Ain’t no shame in medication!! I tell my clients all the time, “We don’t judge diabetics for needing insulin, and antidepressants are no different.” Some people truly have a chemical imbalance in the body. I have seen clients make a complete 180 degree change after getting on the right medication. It is an incredible thing to witness! On the other hand, medication isn’t for everyone. I see clients try several different versions, and none seem to do the trick. When that happens, we rely heavily on healthy coping skills – which we define together in session. Either way, a healthy mind and spirit is available. You just have to do what’s best for YOU.
3. Therapists aren’t God.
Thank GOD therapists aren’t God. I do NOT want that responsibility. So often, I think people see doctors, therapists, and the like as someone who is all-knowing. Who has all the answers, and can fix all the problems. Let me just tell you – we CAN NOT do that. I can offer you tools. I can listen to you very intently, giving you all my attention. I can be empathetic and non-judgmental. I can offer insight, or see things in ways haven’t thought of. I can help you find the answers you’ve been looking for by asking the right questions. But therapists can’t wave a magic wand and make everything right. I would LOVE to be able to, but what it really takes is clients putting in the hard work and trusting the process. And having a therapist they trust and like.
4. Shifting your focus to others is incredibly healing.
Just because I’m a therapist doesn’t mean my life is all put together perfectly now. Believe me, I have my days!! What I have found is that when I go to work, sit down and shift my focus to my clients, there is a relief. Which I think is true for everyone. Once we stop being consumed with our own lives, and pay attention to others, we can feel relief. You don’t have to be a therapist to do this! You can volunteer, do something kind for a friend, sit and listen to a co-worker who needs encouragement. There are plenty of options out there – give it a shot!
5. We all need time for ourselves.
I am just coming off a week I took for myself. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t do anything glamorous or cool. I stayed home, didn’t put on makeup, painted my porch, read, and worked out. But it was EXACTLY what I needed. Part of my job is taking care of myself so that I can help others. It’s no joke! It’s part of being an ethical therapist to prevent burnout. The mental health profession requires this of us. So often, I want to implement this policy for anyone in a caring role!! If you’re reading this, and thinking, “I could use a week off to take care of me!” I’m urging you to do something for yourself. Maybe it’s just taking an hour off. Or taking a walk alone. Or deep breaths before you get out of your car to walk in to work. Whatever it is, steal those moments for yourself. You must!!
Whew!! That was some good stuff! Thank you Stacy for sharing your experience. Be on the lookout for Part Two of our Mental Health Awareness series.
Angel & Stacy