Therapy can change your life, so why wait?

I often wonder why it is that people only seem to come for counselling therapy when something is definitely wrong in their lives?

It sometimes feels like clients are waiting for that relationship to break down, for them to lose their job, or be put under such pressure to do their job that this impacts on other areas of their lives. We know loved ones will eventually pass away but leave it until it happens before we try to deal with this.

Show me someone who says they are perfect, with nothing in their life they want to change, and I would say they are a prime candidate for therapy. There is always some aspect of our lives we can change, that we can improve and that will help us lead a richer and fuller life that will help us in our job, in our relationships, often just being ok with who we are.

I recall reading a BBC report last year about a school in SE London starting to teach primary school children about mental health, getting them to talk about it and learn more about this by using games and workbooks, and thought how lucky they were. Rather than waiting for something to feel wrong they were being taught and encouraged to be open about how they were feeling and then find ways of dealing with it, but above all else being taught that it was ok to talk about it and it was something to always be aware of.

And yet the majority of men and women in the UK today never had such enlightened education, brought up with entrenched attitudes to mental health that discourage them from talking about it even when something is definitely wrong in their lives.

It is interesting to me that it is those clients I have seen who tell me that the process of therapy not only helped them deal with whatever issue it was they first came to me with, but also recognised that what they learned about themselves in therapy also helped them going forward in their lives. Perhaps this is also why some return for more therapy, recognising that as their lives continue, things change and therapy helps them find a new perspective and a new understanding of how to deal with these changes.

If you think about Olympic gold medallists, or other top sportsmen, why when they are at the peak of their performance do they still keep training? Perhaps it is that they recognise that just that extra 1% may make the difference, and I liken therapy to this. Yes, our lives might be ok, but by putting that little extra effort into understanding ourselves better, perhaps building our resilience, we may also make our own day to day lives that little bit better. And like these top sportsmen, who don’t wait to start training until their performance dips, perhaps all of us need to see therapy not as fire-fighting but as something to help us remain in tip-top shape, our mental health as important as our physical health.

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