Is Therapy Worth It?

Photo by on

I was recently evaluating a conversation I had with a friend, about therapy, counselling, the power of meditation and prayer and it occurred to me to do this blog post. So I am writing this from a place some second hand experience, I am writing it both for myself and for someone like this dear friend, who wishes she had bumped into a piece like this, when things peaked for her.

Cambridge dictionary has defined therapy as “treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger, especially after an illness”. Some common therapies include occupational therapy, speech therapy, group therapy, behavioural therapy. For the purpose of this post, I would like to focus on therapies that improve the well being of the mind. There are many instances where one might need the right therapy to unpack and manage events in the past, or the present, to manage stress, or anxiety triggered by events or perhaps chemical imbalances in the body. There can be need for therapy following a new job, a big life change, a bereavement, a divorce, a difficult marriage, anxiety, depression of many kinds.

Life happens sometimes and things get overwhelming, confusing, or we find ourselves in very difficult and disagreeable situations. The power of talking things through and articulating how one feels can never be underestimated. As human beings, our minds play a vital role in how we process things and how our hearts and heads process various situations. Speaking out then can provide tremendous relief, and an avenue to express what exactly is going on, as well as why we are dealing with it in the way that we are.

Although both words (therapy and counselling) are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different. Both attempt to provide opportunities to unpack, discuss and heal, however counselling is usually more short term (6 to 12 weeks) than therapy. Increasingly, people use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with  some eating disorder such as bulimia, depression,  phobias, obssessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to deal with other things such as bereavement, onset of a serious illness, infertility, relationship/marriage issues, loss of a job, retirement, childbirth, professionals use talking therapies to help people who may be affected.

More recently, the use of therapy is becoming increasingly popular, with more people, at least in my immediate circle, considering it. It is as though the rest of the world is finally catching up on a recipe the Americans have had and used for a long time. Remember the inferences and the jokes about shrinks and people dreaming on a couch, being a fad in the US? Well it seems that suddenly, the whole world realises that actually, this is valid treatment that can save lives. So is therapy worth it? I think as with most things in life, the intention and the theory are great, it is finding the appropriate diagnosis and the correct treatment that can be hit or miss. I have to say that not everyone who claims to be a counsellor or a therapist is one, or a good one at that.

My friend who inspired this piece had therapy for six months when she was dealing with certain childhood/growing up problems which had begun to rear their ugly heads as she got older and tried to have a thriving and lasting relationship. According to her, it was worth it, it saved her marriage, saved her job, and made her a better person. Therapy is worth it if one finds the appropriate professional for help. Most countries will have a list of qualified, licensed and certified therapies who are allowed to practice. Additionally, some regions will have independent reviews regarding the therapist in question. I would suggest doing some research before deciding on one. It might also help to discuss needs and problems within the trusted safety net of family and/or friends and your family general practitioner, before the introduction of a professional.

Family doctors, your best friend, your mentor, your neighbour, that trusted colleague, your pastor, a career coach, are great places to start. However, invariably, a trained therapist is always the best place to stop.

Have you ever had therapy or counselling? If not, is it something that you would ever consider?

Seeing A Shrink Or Being My Own Shrink?

Lately, I have had quite a bit of time for self-reflection prompted by a series of incidents which have occurred in my family, in my personal relationships, and at work. I think the incidents at work have had quite a profound effect on me. In the last four months, three colleagues have passed on from terminal diseases which were fast and furious and did not leave them a fighting chance. The first to fall this year was M whom I worked with closely and blogged about after he passed. While he was ill, I shared my thoughts and fears regarding ill-health, and the lifestyle changes which could potentially give us a fighting chance. Most of it was directed at someone whom I love very much.

In the last four months, these three vibrant people who were much loved, and had very young families, went across the bridge after a good fight, leaving many people confused and saddened. The biggest anguish for most of us was seeing them in pain and suffering, but perhaps that also constitutes our biggest consolation, that they are in a better place, free from suffering.

Yesterday, management thought it may be a good idea to invite a clinical psychologist to speak to staff and have a grieving session because of the peculiar manner and timing during which all these deaths occurred. At first, we were being silly and asking if there would be a couch for everyone since we shall be seeing a shrink. It turned into a waterworks of sort, as emotions that had never been discussed before came to the fore. I surprised myself by opening up and crying quite a bit. It was embarrassing afterwards, because the truth is that you want your colleagues to see you for the strong professional woman who you are. But I am glad it happened, because I spoke my mind and poured my heart out, I feel as though some catharsis of sort has now occurred within me and I hope and pray that their families find or atleast begin the process, of finding such peace.

You see, I worked directly with M, he reported to me on a day to day basis. As a member of my team, he was quite good-natured and a good fit personality wise. However, I felt that there were some things he could have done better work wise and we had a few disagreements on these issues. People complained to me as well, regarding the quality of his work and in a team where under-staffing is a problem, you want your existing hands to be very good and on top of the issues. My biggest regret is that I did not see the signs of ill-health in the errors that he made, I should have sensed ill-health in the confusion and memory loss. But I did not, and that makes me extremely sad. I wish I had insisted that he went to hospital and had himself checked out. I wish I had slowed down, and taken a closer look. These days, when his children tell me about the various plans he had for them and the future, and how much they talked about these plans and wanted to pull it through as a mark of respect to him, it warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes at the same time.

All I can say is that death is the inevitable end, nobody wants to talk about it; and that’s certainly understandable. But recently I have begun to have conversations of death with God and his universe. My father used to say “Onye kwe, Chi ya ekwe”, which basically means that “When one agrees with himself, his God agrees with him”. I have said to him that I would like to die when I am old and have seen my children and my children’s children. I would like to pass after a day spent with the grand children, reading to them and maybe playing a game of chess with other loved ones (I have to learn, seems like such a good game). Then I shall go to bed and die in my sleep; a happy old woman. So till we see again M, G and A, be happy. Godspeed.