I just found out that my therapist has been retiring for five years.
This probably sounds like a joke setting, but it’s not. If I were to joke, which I was once told was a form of psychological deviation during a session, I’d probably say something like, “Anyone who should have listen to my millennial frustrations over the last five years, deserve a happy retirement. ”
I am grateful to have access to mental health through my insurance, which I know is not true for everyone. Living in San Francisco – or anywhere in the United States – in 2022 you see the results of a society with insufficient emphasis and access to mental health care in an intimate way. At the local level, we are witnessing people suffering on the streets and healing themselves. Nationally, we face it in the form of the phenomenon of mass shooting and in the ridiculous, deceptive rhetoric of the gas wing of our culture.
There are so many times when I wish the world could just get on the couch collectively and rework some things.
I have always been a fan of registering with a therapist as part of my emotional support plan. Whether we are talking about the Golden Gate Bridge, our bodies or our psyche, I believe in maintenance and counseling experts. I have never understood why so many people think that seeking therapy is somehow a sign of weakness or that there is some kind of mental strength or firmness that comes with internalizing your emotions. I don’t cut my hair and I don’t do my own dentistry, so why not hire a mental health professional?
In the last two years of the pandemic, many people have found themselves living with new types of stress and fears that manifest in different ways. In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic alone, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased by about 25 percent, according to a scientific report released by the World Health Organization in March. A study by the American Psychological Association from 2021 showed that it is not surprising that psychologists report that the recommended recommendations have doubled since 2020, from 37% to 62%.
With my therapist’s retirement, it made me think about how little gratitude mental health providers receive. Since the needs and worries of daily life are not something that cures or improves in an obvious way, such as a broken leg or a physical illness, I don’t think we are bad at acknowledging their impact. I’m also not sure that pop culture has ever accurately portrayed the life benefits of therapy.
When you see therapy in movies and on television, its success is usually demonstrated by some big “aha” moment in which the person is pushed to a cathartic breakthrough (think of the scene “It’s not your fault” in “Good Will Hunting”). This is probably happening for some people, but for most of us, the work we do during the session would be quite boring conversations for an observer.
But this does not mean that work is not essential.
I will not write about what my therapist and I have been discussing in the last five years in a column (please save that for a book), but I will say that I would not have done so well without our time together. The call to help people is obviously noble, but the call to I’m listening it is especially special for people.
I am grateful to everyone in the field of mental health who allowed us to work through our stories.