As part of my job, I routinely talk with (typically high-functioning) clients who have recently had talk therapy to see how their experience has been and make sure they are getting the proper level of support. In doing this, I’ve had to figure out ways to make them feel comfortable talking to me, often to break through their embarrassment with having asked for help in the first place, for being a “person who goes to therapy.”
I was talking to such a person today when it occurred to me just how silly the stigma is, when you break it down to its most basic level. People are ashamed of wanting to talk out their issues with a sympathetic listener.
It’s just absurd that we would shame anyone for something so perfectly natural. I suppose it is a bit odd to pay the listener, but then again, if you want skilled help for something, you often have to pay. And getting free “therapy” from a friend is a bit like having a friend cut your hair or fix your car. It could go great, but if they don’t actually know what they’re doing, the results could be disastrous. And unlike the other two examples, the damage could be done without it being readily apparent.
Anyway, as a person who has had “needy” thrown my way as an insult more times than I can count, I do think we can be a little hard on people simply for needing and recruiting a little help.