Busting Therapy Myths and Practising Everyday Mental Maintenance. A Q&A with Self Space
MIRROR WATER asked Jodie Cariss, founder of Self Space, about the basics of accessing therapy.
This Q&A would benefit those who are unsure of how to approach therapy, or those who would like to develop their understanding of how therapy could work for them.
MIRROR WATER: Why might a person might seek out therapy? MW: Do you have any tips or gages for people to check in with themselves regarding their mental wellbeing? MW: Based on the fact that almost everyone Googles their symptoms, is it ever okay to self-diagnose in the first instance? MW: There are a few variations of the phrase ‘Everyone needs therapy’ floating around in popular culture. Should everyone go to therapy?
SELF SPACE: Holding on to the idea that we need a reason to start therapy can actually hold us back from beneficial support.
There’s a misconception when it comes to therapy that you seek out support when you are at your lowest, you’ve hit the bottom and don’t know how to get back. In fact therapy is an incredible tool to better understand ourselves and our needs. It’s useful if we have an openness to self inquiry, get curious enough to explore yourself in a safe space. We don't need to have any specific symptoms or diagnosis or have a problem that needs solving. We can simply want to understand ourselves better, navigate reaching our potential or be wanting to explore the corners of our lives.
Other reasons we might begin therapy can include but not be limited to: feeling overwhelmed, stressed, envious, lonely, disengaged; experiencing grief, trauma, low moods, a loss of joy or hope, a lack of direction; using alcohol or substances in a way that does not feel good. You might also begin therapy through the desire to understand your past, or wanting to make an ok relationship great, or to process a significant life event. If you’re experiencing any of these things we’d suggest booking in for a chat and seeing where you could benefit from support.
SS: Busyness can be a big distraction when it comes to avoiding what is causing us distress. We have a tendency to plough through things so that we don’t feel what might be emotionally difficult for us, but when we stop and allow ourselves to really check in with what’s going on with us we will almost always have a very good idea of what needs tending to.
Having someone to support us to look at these aspects of ourselves and our lives in a productive, supportive and honest way can be hugely beneficial. To begin the process of breaking things down—having an hour each week to stop and enquire about ourselves—supports us not just in terms of crisis but in fact everyday, as we face the often grinding components of being human.
Taking a proactive approach to supporting our emotional selves (something Self Space wholeheartedly champion daily with ‘everyday mental maintenance’) gives us a chance to move beyond mental health awareness and into a space of mental wellness and understanding all year round.
SS: Googling often gives us validation for our feelings. Sometimes we need a label to anchor to when we are overwhelmed by what we are feeling. But looking at symptoms and defining solutions can be very limiting. If we think of our life experiences as a process, a moving set of linked things which is fluid and is connected to the past and the present, to our thoughts and feelings, our bodies and minds, it isn’t often just one thing or another. Labelling emotions and experiences might in fact disable you from looking further into and at yourself, giving you immediate relief but not long term change and understanding. We would advise avoiding googling—but instead, engage in talk with friends, loved ones and therapists about how you're feeling and what’s happening for you.
SS: We need to be careful with trends around wellbeing and fancy quick fix solutions. It’s much more beneficial to integrate sustainable and useful ways for us to enhance our well being. Therapy is hard work. Making changes and engaging in the process of reflecting on yourself in order to reach your potential is not easy, glamorous or something that is going to create a quick fix. Having a period of self-reflection, working with a supporter who is non-biased and able to challenge your behaviour and choices when appropriate, like a therapist, can be invaluable to your growth at different stages in your life. If it feels like something you are interested in and would like to explore, do it. But don't make it another job to tick off your to do list because that won't support a meaningful process.
MIRROR WATER: Why might a person might seek out therapy?
MW: Do you have any tips or gages for people to check in with themselves regarding their mental wellbeing?
MW: Based on the fact that almost everyone Googles their symptoms, is it ever okay to self-diagnose in the first instance?
MW: There are a few variations of the phrase ‘Everyone needs therapy’ floating around in popular culture. Should everyone go to therapy?