Today is National Psychotherapy Day. How will you participate?
I am going to share my journey from a childhood belief that "therapy is a punishment" to growing up and seeking out a therapist myself.
Around age 10, I had developed a short sense of patience, and sensitive irritability. Whether it was a reflection of how I felt about myself, or how I was handling my anxieties at the time- I still don't know. I remember I was always the one being yelled at for my mouth, my early attitude and raised eyebrows. I don't remember much about what I would do, but I remember feeling like an outcast. I felt hated by my family, and myself. I felt like a bad person, yet I always was quick to defend myself. My cousins would be over my house playing, and I would be sent to sit alone on the staircase after who knows what.
In my early adolescence my attitude only became worse. It was never at school, with my friends or teachers, but always in my household. If I was scolded for my behavior in the moment, I would laugh. My parents would look at me with stern eyes and I would hold in a giggle, feeling the corners of my mouth slide up into a smile. I wasn't trying to make my parents more annoyed, and I would bite my lip to hold it in. I am still not sure why I reacted that way. A defensive wall would come up and I would try to blame my behavior on anything but myself.
I remember my mom telling me to fix my attitude/rudeness, or she was going to take me to see a counselor. She was going to make me go. My early thought of the word "counseling" seemed more like a punishment than a helpful tool. I refused to go, said I didn't need it, that my mom was out of her mind, and I didn't need help. I was not the type of kid that needed counseling, right?
Flash forward to the summer before my junior year of high school when I asked my mom to take me to see a therapist for my anxiety. I didn't care what "type of person" I had thought fit into the client category at that point; I just wanted to feel better.
This was my FIRST experience with a therapist:
So this is what I have learned when it comes to finding a therapist:
I realized what worked for me, and what did not, and who I could connect with. My school social worker connected me with someone new, and I now feel supported.
This is how therapy has helped me:
The best part is...
I had never thought I could.
If you find it difficult to put your feelings into words, struggle with social anxiety, or are giving up on asking for help because of it: Read my story. It is possible to communicate your needs, even with difficulty. Not everyone is an expert on expressing their emotions/private thoughts to others.
If you have other questions for me or about an adolescent's experience with counseling feel free to contact me on my Contact page, or my "Ask Haley" column. Can be anonymous if you state so.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.