Asking for help
Before we went in for our profession, we (dynamic psychotherapists) have worked on ourselves. This means that we engaged our personal psychotherapy. Sometimes you wish to join this journey, sometimes you don’t. Anyway, at a certain point, this path has been lead by a reason linked to our studies, and it leads to becoming a psychotherapist.
Sometimes, therapists are not aware of what asking for help can mean for patients, how difficult it could be; but this is an essential moment that will play a part in future choices and in a possible ‘therapeutic journey’.
When someone decides to consult a psychologist, it always happens because an old balance doesn’t work anymore (E. Gilliéron): people have no grips and they feel there is no way to get out. Therefore, psychotherapy seems the last chance, the last painful and insecure attempt to reconcile your worries.
Sometimes the decision to begin this journey comes from a suggestion of a friend, a relative, or a physician. Sometimes, you just feel that it’s what you really need.
This pursuit can have several shadings: patients can feel embarrassed for their “unusual” request, they can feel guilty because those problems “do not really exist”, and if they do exist they should get solved by themselves, they can feel confused about their request, unaware of what they’ll face. It’s difficult to recognize that many people around us already started this personal research and others should better do it.
Beginning this journey often means entering an unknown world, close to the medical field but, at the same time, a world with its own way, rituality, methodology, a world not far from that of philosophy.
When you ask for psychological help, you feel “ill”, which could lead to bad feelings. But becoming a patient could be such an extraordinary experience and could lead to such wellbeing and comfort that you could never imagine.
The passage from ‘healthy person’ to ‘patient’ could make you feel more abnormal, pathologic than what you really are: but this is a fundamental step because it allows you to ask for help. It can make you admit that in this condition you can do nothing but get in touch with a mental health professional, skilful and competent, and ask for a work focused on yourself.
If you ask for help, it means that you’re in trouble and that, in this condition, you can’t just help yourself; it means that you can spot your own helplessness, your non-omnipotence, in front of critical situations. This is indeed normal: nobody can live without the others.
If you just think about it, it happens every day, but we’re not aware of it: when an electrical appliance or a tool breaks, when something wears out, you turn to someone who can help you with his/her own skills, knowledge, capability to solve this problem. When you suffer from a physical pain, you usually go to a medical specialist.
Almost all these requests happen daily in your life, and in these cases asking for help does not make you feel undervalued. But when you ask for a psychological help, this request can often create many problems.
Why do you ask for help when your boiler is broken, but you are so reluctant to look for a psychological help? There is no answer suitable for everybody and for every situation. Undoubtedly, this request has a cost: but this price, sooner or later, will turn into a value, a good, a certainty, a salvation.
Above all, it’s a positive move you decide to make for yourself, a gesture that make you understand that, after all, you’re already helping yourself, because you have undestood that you’re in trouble. Psychotherapy can last long or not. It can be a few months or several years. Anyway, this time is precious because it gives you the chance to know yourself and your limits, as well as the resources and the possibilities you have got and you didn’t know to have.
When you know yourself, the world seems less scary, complicated choices (unthinkable before) now seem imaginable, almost possible, for you’re responsible for yourself and you have the strength to hold it up. A good therapeutic work teaches to smile in front of big and small failures, to cope with unlucky, unexpected events; it teaches you to accept what you can’t do and take advantage of what you can be or do.
Beginning a psychotherapy can help you, but sometimes it’s not enough to get out from darkness. It could be useful to get in touch with a psychiatrist and, consequently, start a pharmacotherapy at the same time of a psychotherapy. But never forget that in both cases you are ‘taking care of yourself’, your psyche and your body (necessarily tied). If a medical treatment is necessary, a psychologist will understand it and point it out to the patient.