Try a Better Response to “I’m Going to Therapy”

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Just Doing Life, Parenting, Relationships, Self Care | 0 comments

I have a thirty-something year old male client who is very successful in business. It took a lot for him to make the call for us to meet because he felt stigmatized within the business world for appearing weak or crazy.

We have worked together for almost a year and to quote him… “I am a big believer in therapy now”. Nothing major has changed externally- same job, same house, same friends, but so much has shifted internally.

It’s been an honor to watch him “hatch”- a word we came up with together.

Last week, he came in and needed to vent. In the past month he has decided that he is no longer embarrassed to admit he goes to therapy. Initially, there was shame attached to needing help so he hid the fact to avoid feeling judged. He chose not to tell anyone, even those closest in his life.

But as he “hatched”, he felt something he had rarely experienced before: peace. People around him noticed and would comment on how different he seemed but he never felt confident enough to share what was shifting inside.

Until we had a very powerful session where everything just clicked, and he realized the root of why he was driven so intensely and the wounds that surrounded that. At the end of that session, he said “I am no longer afraid to tell people that I go to therapy”. It was a breakthrough.

But what has been frustrating is peoples response. Yes, they are very supportive and understanding. No one has said a harsh or demeaning thing. People have been kind, but he gets asked the same question every time he shares that he has been working in therapy.

“What’s wrong?”.

It happened in the office and at a dinner with friends. It happened on the golf course. It happened while getting drinks with a co-worker.

Here is a PSA: stop asking that question if someone tells you they are in therapy. Please, just stop. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing to talk to someone outside of your circle. Nothing wrong with processing your life and the direction it is going. Nothing wrong with examining your behaviors and feelings. Nothing wrong with working on different communication skills to better express your needs, desires and disappointments. Nothing wrong with trying to become a better version of yourself.

Words are powerful tools, if used correctly and incorrectly. By thinking about how we word things before we say them and de-conditioning ourselves to common phrases we can dramatically change our interaction with people and we create space for a more honest and respectful conversation.

If somebody tells you, they are in therapy try these phrases:
Thanks for sharing that with me. Good for you!
What brought you to that decision?
I am so proud of you.
How are you feeling?
What’s been your takeaway so far?
I’m so glad you’re taking care of yourself.
Is there anything I can do to help?

My clients are normal people like you and me – they’re just doing something about their stress, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. Some of them are just at a crossroads and don’t know where to turn. Some of them are facing a life change or have old wounds they want to finally let go of. Some want to dig in and others just need to reset. But what they are all doing is taking a proactive stance on their emotional and psychological health. They are practicing self-care.

There is nothing wrong with that… or them.

Going to therapy is a GOOD thing. It means you are willing to take charge of your decisions, emotions, hurts and behaviors. It shows bravery, resilience and determination to work on yourself. It should be celebrated, not seem as a flaw or a sign there is a problem.

The next time somebody tells you they are in therapy or need therapy to help with something, be mindful of your wording. Acknowledge their courage to speak up. Be supportive and encouraging, and whatever you do, please do not ask “What’s wrong?”.


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