10 years ago, if you told someone you were seeing a therapist, they’d probably slowly back away from you. It would summon a mental image of you reclining on a velvet couch, telling a grey-haired psychologist all about how your absent father. And chances are, they’d assume it meant you were crazy, or even psychotic. Oh, how times have changed! Slowly by slowly, going to therapy is becoming mainstream. In places in NYC and LA, having your therapist on speed dial is considered as normal as a hairstylist or facialist. It’s our generation in particular who are becoming increasingly ‘woke’ and proactive when it comes to mental health. Research shows that since a certain number of therapy sessions became rebatable through Medicare 10 years ago, more than 1.5 million Australians have visited a psychologist for a range of mental health conditions—and this reflects the trend in other metropolitan areas.
That said, in many areas in the world, there’s still a certain stigma around seeking help for your mental health.So, to help shake that stigma, we spoke to both a psychologist and a patient about why you don’t need to be ‘crazy’ or even have a diagnosed mental health condition to benefit from seeing a therapist.
Amy Isaacs is a psychologist, the creator of The Mindful Collective, a wellbeing advocate, an entrepreneur and a motivational speaker.
“Therapists are trained to look for the story behind the story, then make you aware of it. Once you can observe the presence of the story in your life and see the recurring themes, you can change it. You do not need to be unwell to benefit from this. In fact, you can often be more vulnerable, open and insightful when you are in a healthy state of mind. This is why the health system in Australia uses a Stepped-Care Approach. This leads to meeting people where, when and how they need therapists to.
It may be unorthodox to quote JK Rowling, but her comment about ‘thoughts leaving deeper scars than almost anything else’ is relatable for most at some level. We all have these scars, stories, narratives. They are part of who we are. However, by being aware of them and making them work for us—rather than against us—it can help us reach more of our potential and be happier, healthier and more grateful. This is why the field of ‘positive psychology’ exists – to help us go from ‘getting by’ to thriving.”
Sarah* 27, is a creative from Sydney, Australia
“The best thing about having someone professional to talk to is knowing that they can give tools that you can use that suit you personally. Not every technique and bit of advice suits every person. So, when you talk to a professional they can find out what will work for you best. They can help you realise what you are doing right or wrong that you may not have come to understand without having an impartial person to talk to.”
It’s clear from hearing both perspectives that in seeing a therapist, you can not only learn the coping mechanisms that will allow you to deal with the ups and downs that life throws at you, but also talk to someone who isn’t directly involved in the situation that’s troubling you—so they can offer an impartial perspective you may not have considered. This is something anyone can benefit from, whether or not that have a mental health condition. You can learn more about therapy here.