Seeking therapy is not a sign of failure
I've noticed a theme with my new clients recently: shame around seeking therapy.
By the time many people and couples sit down with me, many of them have been suffering for months or even years, too ashamed to reach out for help. For many folks, seeking therapy means they have failed in some way: failed to deal with life's difficulties, failed as a couple, failed to 'fix' themselves, failed at being 'normal,' you name it.
What our culture doesn't often recognize is that seeking therapy is actually a sign of strength. By acknowledging that something isn't right, we are already making a step towards positive change. It takes strength to look inward at ourselves and our patterns and shift the way we interact with the world.
Humans are social creatures. From the moment that we enter this world, we are dependent on one another for basic survival, in addition to many other positive aspects of life including friendship, romance, laughter, intimacy, and joy. The presumption that we should be able to 'pick ourselves up by our bootstraps' and manage on our own is misguided, often leading to prolonged suffering and loneliness.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then seeking the help of a therapist is not a sign of failure. Instead, it's a sign of health, indicating that you are ready to understand your suffering and begin to heal. It shows that you are ready to try something new and make lasting beneficial change.
The purpose of individual therapy is to help you move through pain and difficulties and develop effective coping strategies. The purpose of couple therapy is to deepen connection and get you out of that same old argument again and again. Prioritizing your health and that of your relationship is one of the biggest steps to success that you can make!
Don't let shame hold you back from making changes in your life.
Charlotte McKernan is a couple and individual therapist in Fort Collins, CO.