by Dr. Lana Holmes
Myth: Therapy is for crazy people and I ain’t crazy.
The answer: No. But it’s an excellent Patsy Cline song. There is no diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) called “crazy.” A thriving body of clinical research on “crazy” has yet to be generated. Yet there’s a persistent fear that having a mental health diagnosis equates to that derisive word. Unfortunately, this misconception stigmatizes the experience of mental health issues and/or deters people from seeking treatment. So let’s take some time to rectify it.
As we all are acutely aware of in the midst of COVID-19, life as a human being can be hard and unpredictable. The stressors, responsibilities, problems, and inequities that we face build up over time or abruptly confront us. Consequently, the weight of these things can cause distress that adversely impacts how we understand, perceive, and relate to ourselves, others, and the world. And the role of psychotherapy is to provide tools, skills, and support to help people overcome or resolve the issues that have been plaguing them, and in doing so create a sense of empowerment and efficacy.
Furthermore, people pursue psychotherapy for a plethora of reasons. For some folks, it is because they are experiencing significant suffering or challenges in terms of their cognitions, behaviors, and emotions; or within particular domains of functioning (i.e., interpersonal, occupational, academic, familial, etc.). For other folks, it may be because there was a particular event, series of events, or a life transition that has caused them to struggle. And still for others, therapy may be one of the few places that they can find emotional support in a nonjudgmental, empathic environment.
So in conclusion, therapy is a place for all people to share the most vulnerable parts of themselves for healing, comprehension, and resolution. And there’s nothing crazy about that.