Dear Soft Hearted Loves,
People often tell people they should go to therapy so that they can just talk with someone. They often argue that going to therapy is the same price as that massage or retail therapy they might pay for otherwise. Therapy is not a massage. Massage is healing too, but therapy is another somatic way to discharge old stories through our body, express ourselves, and heal. It’s not something we should do just to talk with someone. It’s a healing interaction that can change cycles of trauma.
I do wish that therapy was free to all clients. I dream that therapy was at least more accessible. I even built in free therapy slots for marginalized populations within Soft Heart Psychology. I aim to keep doing more for more accessible care. I wholeheartedly desire to be a part of this solution. For those who can pay for therapy, I really want to talk about why it should be at the top of the list and not put off any longer.
- Do it for your attachment style. This is one of my favorite reasons! I’ve seen folks transform from an avoidant attachment style to a secure attachment style. There is something transformative about therapy where the rapport between client and their psychologist or therapist can allow for a healing and secure attachment style. They may report more confidence or a new, more gentle or accepting voice in their mind. They may relate to people differently and accept a different type of friendship or lover in their life. There are so many beautiful benefits and we know that the number one curative factor in therapy is the therapeutic alliance. It really can transform attachment styles. Perhaps one of my favorite ways to see this show up is for a new care giver. When someone seeks therapy and they want to have a child in their life or are a new parent it is exciting to know we can shift their attachment style in our work together. It is beautiful to know that their work in therapy can impact their caretaker relationship with their child whether adopted, biological, or otherwise.
- Do it for your health. Esteemed Surgeon General of California, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, in The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, explains that trauma impacts our bodies and is correlated with health concerns such as COPD, heart disease, cancer, and so much more. If we leave this toxic stress unaddressed or keep doing things to numb and avoid the pain it can build up in the body and in our DNA. In addition to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ expertise, other trauma experts like Drs. van der Kolk and Brach acknowledge how bodies hold these traumas. People will come in with stuff their doctors don’t understand while these trauma experts have been explaining how trauma impacts our bodies for years now.
- Therapy heals. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris also discussed how therapy can heal trauma. Dr. Burke Harris explains how a connected relationship with a trauma-informed therapist can help people recover from childhood adversity and toxic stress. Even if folks didn’t have childhood trauma, people can most likely relate to the toxic stress component where therapy can be essentially useful for healing.
- Therapy can get you what you want in life. When you come to therapy you are sharing honestly. Your therapist can reflect what you’re saying while reflecting what you’re doing and see if they align for you. For example, if you say you want to be married and at the same time you’re dating someone who doesn’t want a committed relationship then your therapist could non-judgmentally reflect how your dreams and actions line up.
- Do it for your money. I’ve had people come in and identify that what they are doing for a living wage doesn’t line up with what they want to do. Or I’ve had folks see more privileged people doing their same job, but for more money then they are earning. We reflect on this and then support them in asking for an equitable wage. If the sole reason someone comes to therapy is to become more assertive concerning their money, I still recommend therapy because there is a lot of equity that can happen, especially with those experiencing racism or other isms at work and in society.
Therapy is for you whether you’re considering adopting a child and you don’t want to pass down the trauma and attachment style you carry, you want to grieve a loss fully, or you desire to earn what the White men at your job earn. Therapy is for simply for you. As a clinical psychologist I believe in the power of a variety of healing relationships and believe healing comes through all sorts of interactions. There is however a special transformation that seems to come from the rapport with a trauma-informed psychologist or therapist.