Updated: Apr 30
As a therapist, I work with so many people who’ve spent many years suffering with a wide range of issues, some living with mental ill health and all wanting to improve their mental health and emotional difficulties. I also work hard to share positive messages around the importance of understanding and looking after our mental health and how to achieve/maintain this, as do many of my professional peers.
In the past few weeks, I’m becoming increasingly concerned (at best) about some of the coverage in the media relating to therapy. Without getting into the dynamics of the situation, because I think the media/papers are doing a good enough job of that, my thoughts are more around the coverage which appears to attempt (and is possibly/sadly succeeding in many ways) to negatively sensationalise therapy.
Regardless of who you are and what your role is in life, it’s not right that anyone’s mental health is portrayed this way. Why – I hear you ask? Well because there’s likely to be repercussions that may affect the most vulnerable people among us. These people could be your loved ones, family, friends, neighbours, or colleagues. People who have taken the brave step of seeking support to overcome their difficulties and now may have a change of heart after seeing all the stigma and confusing, conflicting, and upsetting stories of late.
There’s always been significant stigma attached to mental ill health and so much work has been carried out by some incredible people and organisations to reduce this over the past years. Some of the things said recently in the media is likely to have impacted on this work and on those people who have been brave enough to seek support. This is a terrible situation, especially as we are experiencing a mental health crisis and people should be being encouraged to seek help and support. The way the press has covered this high-profile story could mean people decide to continue to suffer, exacerbate their condition, or it could delay their recovery if they are seeking help.
1 in 4 people in England alone will experience at least one mental health problem each year. These people are entitled to seek therapy that is confidential, without judgement and a safe place to recover. It’s so important that seeking therapy is portrayed positively, accurately and encouraged before their situation worsens.
Life doesn’t always allow us to have what we want and our goals (including being happy and finding joy in life, getting on with others etc.) can be threatened by the punch’s life throws at us. When this happens, we can either respond in healthy and helpful ways, or react in unhealthy and unhelpful ways. If we believe people must treat us considerately or fairly or even kindly, this can lead to people acting irrationally, including showing anger, rage and frustration, when it doesn’t happen.
Virginia Satir said, “Life isn’t what it’s meant to be, it is what it is. It’s the way we cope with it that makes the difference.” Sometimes we need professional help, aka therapy, to cope. One of my roles/goals, as a therapist, is to help people to become emotionally healthy human beings and develop an acceptance of reality, no matter how difficult or unpleasant their reality is. I for one hope that recent press coverage doesn’t sabotage this important work and put us back years by questioning the authenticity and success of therapy. Therapy may not be for everyone, but personally (particularly with EMDR therapy) it was my lifeline when I suffered secondary trauma a few years ago. Professionally, the testimonials of my clients speak volumes.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from some therapy, then let’s not be put off by some negative press coverage, written in a way to dramatise a story rather than support the needs of society.