There’s a line in Sex and the City where Carrie says to her friends: “I don’t need therapy, I have you guys.” But speaking with professional can benefit anyone, even when you think you don’t need it.
Despite conversations about mental health emerging more frequently these days than perhaps they did 10 years ago, there’s still a fair bit of stigma about going to see a psychologist.
“Seeing a therapist is associated to the complete deterioration of mental health, a case of the ‘crazies’ or is attributed to a mental breakdown,” says Lysn clinical psychotherapist Noosha Anzab, ahead of International Day of Happiness, March 20.
But while it can be particularly beneficial during challenging times, like experiencing major loss through death, employment, or a relationship breakdown, Anzab compares it to how we prioritise our fitness.
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“Visiting a psychologist should be viewed in the same way. It’s the gym for your mind,” she says.
“Don’t wait until things feel overwhelming or unmanageable, speaking with a psychologist regularly will help you to keep your overall health in check.”
Finding the right person to talk to in itself can be a journey, but it’s vital you feel comfortable opening up and speaking freely. After all, this will become a very personal relationship.
“Ideally, you’ll want a psychologist that you can build rapport with, and form an alliance,” says Anzab and a good question to ask is “do my therapist and I have a shared understanding of what I’m facing?”
It’s important to remember that psychologists have specialties in certain areas, too, such as anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, bullying, eating disorders, learning disabilities, parenting, post-traumatic stress, and LGBTQI+ issues.
“Finding a psychologist that fits your personal needs can be tough,” says Anzab.
“If you don’t know what you want, it is totally ok to have a chat with a few psychologists to figure out what style they practice, and if it would work for you.”
If you don’t find that person you click with straight away, there’s no reason to stay loyal to someone who doesn’t ‘get’ you.
“Seeing a psychologist is a very personal matter, however wanting to change psychologists doesn’t have to be a personal issue,” says Anzab.
“While it can feel as though you should persevere even if you don’t click with them, you’re doing yourself a disservice and may not get the most out of your sessions.”
So, is Carrie Bradshaw right? Yes and no, objectivity being the key point here.
“Friends can be great ‘faux therapists’ however sometimes a professional outsiders’ perspective is going to provide the guidance and advice you need,” says Anzab.
“While it’s important to be able to confide in your friends, sometimes people don’t feel completely comfortable telling friends about issues (particularly if their issues are with their friends) which is why seeking a professional’s support is integral.”
She adds: “Maybe friends can be viewed as a daily therapist just like they would be your daily gym buddy, but a psychologist can act as the weekly or regular personal trainer for your mind.”
Noosha Anzabis a clinical psychotherapist & psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world-class wellbeing technology that helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist while being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.