I have to admit; this is a pretty awful title for a blog featured on a popular psychiatry website. On a website filled with excellent articles and blogs informing the public about the positive effects of therapy, the last thing you would expect to find is a blog written by someone who dislikes therapy as much as some people dislike going to the dentist.  I’m fully aware of the positive effects of therapy and psychiatry and I could probably use a few good therapy sessions myself; the problem is that I would rather pull my fingernails out than sit down for a one on one session with a therapist.

My issues with therapy go back as far as I can remember, as far back as my early childhood when I had my first encounter with a therapist in my grade school. I had gone to school with marks around my neck, fingernail marks from Mom’s fingers being wrapped around my throat to be exact, and I remember my teacher asking me about my marks and then being quickly ushered out of my classroom and down to our school guidance counselor’s office.

I was already scared before I even opened her door and sat down on her comfy, soft, red sofa. Mom had me under strict orders to never talk about what happened in our home behind closed doors and to never show the bruises or marks she left on my body to anyone.  If I disobeyed her orders, there would be an even more severe punishment.  Letting the teacher see the marks on my neck that day meant severe consequences for me when I got home if Mom found out.

I became even more terrified when the counselor immediately came over and sat next to me with a large, yellow, legal pad and touched the marks on my neck with her finger. I cringed and pulled away from her immediately but she didn’t react at all.  She simply clicked her pen open and began scribbling notes down on her yellow pad of paper, all the while, craning her head around to get a better look at the marks on my neck.

I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to tell this woman a damn thing.

Half of me was dying to talk; dying to pour my heart out to this woman and tell her what was going on in my home. I was young, already tired of the abuse Mom enjoyed inflicting on me, and wished for nothing more when I shut my eyes at night than to have a family with a mother who loved me.  Deep down, I knew that my only way out of my situation was to talk to someone and get help.  And I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think about just spilling my guts out to this woman the moment I opened her door.

But the other half of me, the abused, scared, quiet me, was stronger that day and every other day thereon. That half of me desperately wanted someone to care about me, to ask me about my likes and dislikes, to take a shred of interest in something in my life other than my abuse.  That half of me was immediately turned off by a person who seemed more interested in taking notes about the marks on my neck rather than taking a moment to even ask me what my full name was.

I couldn’t trust her because if she didn’t care about me, then how would she even begin to understand what I was going through at home? And if she couldn’t understand what I was going through at home, then how in the world could she even begin to help me?  All she was going to do in my eyes was write a report and turn it into DCFS; leaving me alone and helpless and in the care of the Illinois foster care system.

That wasn’t my first encounter and certainly would not be my last encounter with a school counselor or therapist over the next decade of my life. Sometimes a well-meaning classmate would refer me to the school counselor, or a DCFS investigation would force me into private counseling, but I never found a therapist that I could truly trust or a therapist who could completely understand what I was going through at home and how it made me feel.

I couldn’t trust the therapist who had happy family pictures all over his office; how could he understand what it was like to live my dark family life when his life was so full of joy, love, and happiness (and so obviously in my face)? I couldn’t bring myself to talk to the counselor who immediately pulled inkblot cards out of her drawer during our first session and asked me to tell her what I saw.  And I couldn’t even get through an entire session with the therapist I saw as an adult who was more interested in the book I wrote and how I got it published than the problems I was in there to see him about.

Childhood through adulthood; I have yet to find a therapist who can truly understand the issues I dealt with back then and the lingering issues I deal with now. I am so turned off by the therapists I have seen over the past 30 years that I can’t even bring myself to pick up the phone and try to see someone that I can just sit and talk to for a while.

I know it’s silly; I know that there are good therapists out there who are fully qualified to help me and give me some breathing room to just be myself and talk for a while; but I will never find them because I refuse to look. So what is a person like me to do?  A person who wants help but can’t handle the one on one interaction with a therapist?

Visit sites like this one, frequently. Read the blogs and the articles written by amazing therapists, psychiatrists, and people just like you and I.  You will find that article or blog that seems to speak directly to you and helps you in a way that you never thought possible.  Seek out groups, online or group sessions, filled with people who are like you and have gone through some, if not all, of what you have gone through in your life.

The more you realize you aren’t alone, the easier it becomes to talk about your problems and figure out ways to help yourself.

Love yourself, and the rest will follow.