By Nathan Chua
You have probably met people in your lifetime who have said that psychotherapy is for defective people only. This is part of the reason that many people are afraid of the stigma attached to coming for much needed help. It’s a shame that many who would have benefited from therapy miss out on opportunities to better themselves, just because some in society do not believe in the process.
Happily, proponents of a recent school of thought aren’t too happy with the status quo. They are tired of the people avoiding shrinks like a plague. Although there is no doubt that there are people who come for serious illnesses, the proponents of positive psychology are quick to point out that psychotherapy or talk therapy, is, and should not be limited to the mentally ill alone.
Talk therapy is useful even for high-functioning individuals who wish to go from good, to better, to great. Although we can say that most of the world’s population can be considered in the range of good to better, we are flawed one way or another. We all harbor our own neuroticisms in varying degrees. These human limitations can stunt our progress in the roles that we play in our families, jobs and the larger communities that we inhabit. Some of our potentials can be lost only because we didn’t know any better.
Of course, part of the blame can also be pinned on the zeitgeist of psychological thought among certain circles in the Philippines. The approach to complaints about psychological difficulties is usually framed from a disease model. There is a tendency towards determinism, or a prediction that once attuned to being or doing things a certain way, we are wont to make the same dysfunctional decisions in the future. Although I am not saying here that there is no grain of truth in this, I have seen in my practice how this has driven many into unnecessary paranoia. It’s almost like people start an internal treasure hunt for what is wrong with them. This can drive people nuts, thinking that they are nuts.
Here’s an encouraging word for those who are seeking help to better themselves: The next time someone mocks you for going to therapy, tell them that the really sick ones are usually in denial. I liken them to people who have bad odor. Everyone notices it except himself. For those who believe in talk therapy, you can take pride in yourself as part of the chosen few, who are functioning so well, that you can even afford to get therapy. Cheers!