The Stigma Of Therapy. By Sage Bennet

If your friend told you they had to attend physical therapy for a broken arm you would assume it wasn’t a big secret. You wouldn’t go around gossiping about it. Maybe it would come up in a conversation once or twice, but it wouldn’t be a big deal.

So why does this all of a sudden change if your friend’s parents are going through a divorce and your friend is attending therapy to help with their complicated emotions? All of a sudden it’s a big secret and a juicy piece of gossip.

I’ve grown up in a home where therapy is very common. My mother is from the east coast where everyone has a therapist, and my father is bipolar so he attends therapy as well. Growing up this way, I have never understood why someone would feel self-conscious about saying they go to therapy. Pain is pain–whether it’s mental or physical–so why do people feel embarrassed for getting help with it?

“There’s a huge stigma against therapy,” Cole Janssen, a BHS sophomore, asserts. “Physical therapy doesn’t have emotion attached to it, and for some reason people are terrified of talking about emotion.”

To test whether or not Janssen’s view is accurate, Hawk Tawk conducted a survey of the BHS Chamber Choir. Students were asked to write down whether or not they have attended mental health therapy. When the papers were collected 18 students said that they had attended therapy. Then they were asked to raise their hands if they wrote down yes. After tentatively looking around the room, only 13 students raised their hands.

There are many reasons why people tend to shy away from mental health therapy. Oftentimes the reason is because people have either never been exposed to it or have had a bad first experiences with it.

Janssen says that many people don’t understand how many different forms therapy comes in. Therapy can be as simple as couples therapy and behavioural therapy or as complex as art therapy and dream analysis therapy.

Not realizing how many different options there are can cause someone to have a negative first experience because they attend a type of therapy that is not suited for their needs.

Campbell Collins, a member of the 2015 BHS homecoming royalty, says she felt judged by her first therapist.

“When I was younger I went to a therapist and I go in and the therapist thought I was like, a bad kid. She thought I was, like, a drug user,” says Collins.

Because of this experience, Collins says she did not return or pursue other therapists. Instead she turned towards journaling.

Everyone interviewed agreed that while there are many reasons why people are afraid of therapy, there are even more reasons why this stigma against therapy should be eliminated.

Oftentimes people don’t realize that therapy can benefit anyone.

“Therapy is good for anything from being confused regarding one’s identity to problems with family and friends,” Janssen says.

As Evin King, a BHS sophomore, wisely puts it, “It’s not a bad thing to go to therapy. If anything, it shows you’re brave and trying to get help for yourself.”

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