By Anita Doberman: Lifestyles Columnist
I see a psychologist. Perhaps, I see nothing unusual about this because of my background. My mother, sister, aunt and cousin are psychologists, and most of my extended family saw a therapist at one time or another. I grew up thinking that going to a psychologist was just like going to see any other doctor. You have a problem, so you go to the person who can give you tools to deal with your issues, something everyone did.
When I lived in New York City, most of my friends saw therapists. It was a popular extracurricular activity, perhaps to an excess, and people talked openly about their psychologists without feeling any need to hide. I also had this nonchalant attitude, so I was surprised to find that many military wives felt there is some shame associated with therapy.
At times, after mentioning that I saw a psychologist, friends or acquaintances gave me an “are you crazy” look and told me that they felt uncomfortable with the whole idea of seeing a shrink. Wives have explained that seeing a therapist was not for them, but for people who had serious “problems.”
But that’s just not true. You don’t have to be “crazy” to see a therapist. You may simply want help with a particular issue with your kids or husband, or just to get some impartial clarity on your present situation. Whatever the case, therapy can give a new perspective on a stagnant situation. More importantly it can give you a head start on making changes.
I’m not advocating therapy for everyone. It’s absolutely true that many people don’t need to talk to a psychologist or, in some cases, anyone. But I bet that number is much lower than what people assume, and I can think of a few individuals who would benefit from a little introspection.
What’s important is that, whether we would personally see a therapist or not, we respect and encourage those who seek this option. There is no shame in seeking help. And while active-duty members are often hesitant to seek mental health services through military medicine for fear of repercussion on their careers, military spouses don’t have to deal with this issue. We do, however, have to deal with constant moves, family separations, financial stress, deployments, uncertainties, fears and war. Shall I go on? Speaking to a counselor can give us the support we need.
I am one of those people who finds therapy beneficial. I sit on my therapist’s couch and talk about my worries, my fears, my dreams and aspirations, and in the process find ways to work toward improving myself and being a more balanced and satisfied person.
Of course, traditional therapy isn’t the only option; it’s just one of many resources.
There are pastors, chaplains, social workers and support groups to give us a helping hand at any time. Talking to someone is not a sign of weakness, and certainly not “craziness.” Life is not easy, and if you find something that helps, take advantage of it without hesitation or fear of being judged.