In my experience, I usually get a phone call from a potential client when they are in crisis. They might be looking for help to fix a problem area in their life, or hoping to find new solutions for a persistent issue that they have not been able to resolve on their own. I think many people view therapy from this lens - it’s seen as a temporary relationship based on an emotional emergency, something that only needs to be utilized until the problem is “fixed.” Like we would seek out a doctor for an injury or a physical ailment, we seek out a therapist to heal something when we have been unable to do so for ourselves.
It’s time for a new wave of therapy and a new perspective on the relationship between therapist and client. When I think of incredibly successful people in this world, many of them have one thing in common: They have adopted a lifestyle of wellness - physical, spiritual and emotional wellness. This foundation enables them not only to become more successful, but also to feel content and appreciate their success. If you glance at celebrity Instagram or Facebook pages, you might notice that many people have full time trainers, physical therapists, masseuses or personal chefs. They use experts to help them maximize their physical bodies. Imagine if we were that committed to taking care of our mental and emotional bodies as well.
For me, there is no end game for personal growth; there is no point where I have made it. My potential to learn and expand is infinite, but I cannot do this alone. The same way I cannot truly push my body to its full potential without the assistance of a professional, I cannot grow mentally and emotionally without guidance and support.
There is more than enough evidence that our society and this planet is lacking in emotional intelligence and maturity. Though we can not fix society all at once, we can start to facilitate change by taking responsibility for ourselves. What if you committed to a lifestyle of wellness in a way that you have never done before - a lifestyle that does not just address what we eat and how we exercise, but also how we think, feel, and behave. Having the willingness to admit that we need guidance and help from professional is the first step.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that every individual needs to go to therapy on a daily, or even weekly, basis. What I do know, unequivocally, is that our society and our planet would benefit if all individuals were to make a commitment to themselves to grow emotionally.
As a parent, I have taken these steps not only for myself, but also for my children. In my household, we talk about the importance of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. I have them in therapy so they can have professional help guide them as they go through new experiences and evolve mentally and emotionally. They don’t think they go to therapy because there is something wrong with them - they understand that this is a supplemental support system for growth and change.
I am sure I will hear feedback about how it is not possible for everyone to have access to this kind of help. For those people, I suggest that you get creative with how you approach seeking help. Therapy is available to almost everyone if you look hard enough. For individuals who struggle financially, there are a multitude of programs throughout the United States that offer assistance for those who need help and cannot afford it. For others, it is about choosing what is truly valuable to you. Do I buy the $150 Nikes or do I invest in my mental health and personal growth and happiness. For me, the choice is simple. If you are willing and committed, anything is possible.
To go back to the question I posed, should therapy be forever? I think the simple answer is: absolutely. My experience has been nothing but positive from the years I have spend learning and exploring who I am, my own personal struggles, and continual information that is presented through talking with another individual about my life. The more work I do, the more work that is revealed as yet to be done. It’s about adjusting our perspective of medical treatment from pathological/symptoms-based to preventative/evolution-based. I want to be well and attentive to my health always, not just when I am sick. Through the continual exploration of my “stuff” not only do I stay well, but the definition of “well” becomes more expansive. We are biological creatures, if we are not growing and evolving, we are dying. Let us grow collectively. It starts with you. Are you ready to be well?