What do you think of and imagine when you hear the word therapy?
Categorically, are you more likely to frame therapy as representative of a pre-existing problem that needs fixing, or as representative of an opportunity to engage in healing to make space for more growth?
Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to categorize therapy as something to do when ______ isn’t working, painful, and too difficult to resolve on our own.
Recently, I have been doing couples therapy with my girlfriend, and it has been one of the most transformative and healing experiences of my life. Mind you, I am not a newbie to psychological therapy by any means. My parents had me seeing a therapist when I was seven years old. And yet, what has been so transformative about my couples therapy experience has been how it has completely changed my perspective on successful relationships.
I know this sounds extreme, but I now do NOT believe that a romantic relationship can be truly successful, rewarding, and infinite if the couple does not engage in therapy early on. Instead of being surprised and confused by the high frequency rate and predicability of divorce, I now think that makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t be surprised if a 100 people that didn’t have their driver’s licenses got into car accidents. Similarly, how are relationships supposed to prevent crashing if they haven’t been taught to drive?
Unfortunately, we have been so naively and ignorantly conditioned to believe this soul mate narrative that if you have found the “right” person it should just work; furthermore, if you are going to therapy within the first year of your relationship, it must not be the “right” person.
Truth be told, it will never be the “right” person BECAUSE who we are as individuals is EXTREMELY complicated based on our unique backgrounds, upbringing, and life experience. Therefore, to assume styles of attachment, coping, communication, and responses to stress are compatible with no additional therapeutic nurturing is probabilistically idiotic.
Therapy, psychological or physical, is THE path forward because it is the process of “removing obstacles to help gain perspective,” (Irvin Yalom). Obstacles–mental, emotional, or physical–take up space that then is no longer available to house future growth.
I implore you to rethink your relationship to therapy and the role that healing has in your life on the frontend of new opportunities, as opposed to that which you run to on the backend of a catastrophe from which you are hoping to recover.
Remember, life is long. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Go on, start your HEALING PRACTICE with some form of therapy.