Over the month of August, among the other many books I got to read, I came across a book that I consider myself quite lucky to have found. I believe the book is a memoir, I am certain that it is a memoir, written by an author named Lori Gottlieb. The title of the book is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. When I first came across it, I wasn’t entirely sure it was a book I would fully be invested in. I knew it entailed matters concerning therapy and I was a bit iffy on whether it would be artistically motivating to read. I can say with certainty now that this book is a lot more than I anticipated. I read it gradually, but loved every bit of it, including how expressive the author wrote. I am genuinely glad I got to read it to completion.
Without giving out too much of it, the plot of the book is something that quite captivated me. I learned a lot and it gave me quite the insight. I say this from the perspective of someone who has mildly studied psychology, ( I say mildly because all I have had the chance to study it, is through a diploma and if I am being honest, I still consider myself quite the amateur in regards to it). Before I can delve into my own relation to psychology, I just want to elaborate on how insightful it was reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Insightful in that, it was able to bring light into the subject of therapy from both a therapist’s opinion and that of a client’s opinion. It sort of normalized seeking professional therapeutic assistance, to those who already had sort it out and equally to those who hadn’t. I found that quite wonderful about the book. Besides just normalizing therapy itself, it too humanized therapists as more than just their professions. The author who is a psychotherapist takes us down the journey of being a therapist as well as seeking one out for herself. I found that quite great because, speaking from a personal opinion, one can be quick to perceive therapists as invincible. It is easily misjudged that therapists, being what their profession entails, are too strong of human beings to go through similar motions as those of their clients. On the off chance that they do experience similar hardships, the perception is that they are equipped to somewhat counsel themselves out of those said hardships. I should clarify that it does not work like that at all. As a psychology student, it is insisted enough that therapists need their own therapists for themselves. It’s entirely a chained link of therapists seeking out therapy from each other. That aspect of the book was quite important for me. I applauded the book mainly for that, besides all the other wonderful aspects of it that were brought out.
If someone came to me and asked me if I would advise them on seeking out help from a therapist or counsellor, or even a psychiatrist, my outright first answer would be yes. It is entirely important to give time and care to one’s mind as is given to one’s body. It would be instinctual for me to say yes as my first answer, but I owe you the honesty that it will not be technically a walk in the park. This is from a very biased opinion, this is my opinion as a client who’s been to therapy, it is not the opinion of a psychology student. This is also not meant to be a discouragement towards anyone out to seek therapeutic help, not at all. Therapy is great, wonderful even, but it will require a lot of you. Some parts of you will be required, parts that you may not be quite yet aware of.
My first experience of professional therapy was with my school counsellor in college. If I am being truthfully honest, it was long overdue. I want to be very clear that when I refer to professional therapy or counselling, I mean it as therapy from a professionally trained counsellor or psychologist. One who has studied in that field and is not a self-appointed counsellor. Anyone can give advice, not everyone can offer therapy. Just needed to be clear on that. I am strictly talking about a professional psychologist.
It was quite a big step for me to reach out to the school counsellor. I wasn’t the most approachable person, and neither was I the most approaching. At school, I knew well to never be too personal with anyone. Actually, if my memory serves me right, I was incited by my sister to seek out the counsellor because my sister thought of me then as a ticking time bomb. I was convinced that I wanted a baby, ( major eye roll) and I was only twenty years old. Then, it felt like such an urgency for me, like it was the only thing that I was missing, and it would somehow complete my life. I was quite naïve then because even now, I am not remotely ready for a child. Therapy was able to show that to me. I later learned that I was overcompensating for something entirely different. Anyway, my first take on therapy was good. I found solace and empathy that I had never quite experienced before. It was as it should have been, it was therapeutic for me and I was able to go through therapy for the next three years I had in college. It took a bit of a turn for me because the relationship between me and the school counsellor progressed to a very close friendship which in therapy is regarded as a dual relationship. To be able to maintain the levels of professionalism, it is frowned up to have any other sort of relationship outside the client/counsellor relationship. It is perceived that if the boundaries are severed, the therapist will not be able to give enough credibility in her profession hence why it is important that one seeks out a different therapist when boundaries are crossed.
For me, I wouldn’t say she entirely quit being my counsellor, and I didn’t seek therapy elsewhere. She transformed into a guide to whom I sort out counsel and advice. Now she is practically like my best friend who is also my Yoda.
Therapy was able to open me up in ways I probably would never have had the chance to before. It even motivated me into being a better student in psychology. Sometime last year, I was able to go back to the professional context of therapy with an entirely new therapist who was just that, my therapist. I only got to see her for about a month before I stopped. The experience of it was quite different than my first which leads me to my next piece of advice, you don’t have to be stuck in a therapy that you don’t feel is working for you. It is absolutely okay to decide on changing your current therapist and seeking out one who best fits you. I understand for those who have been to therapy that it may sometimes feel like a betrayal to your therapist if one considers leaving, but it is best to remember that it is your wellbeing that comes first. There will be no hard feelings from your therapist.
From the standpoint of being a soon to be counsellor, I have only had so little experience as one. I did my first internship as a counsellor at a hospital and I genuinely disliked every moment of it. I was extremely underqualified and my supervisor thought it best to leave me alone on most occasions to tend to actual clients who needed therapy. I often hope that the clients I got to see were able to seek out a second opinion from a more qualified professional. Over time, I have not had the chance to be a counsellor since I finished my diploma. Let’s just say I have been putting it off for nearly a year now. I have convinced myself that I am not ready and I am not certain when I ever will be. On multiple occasions, I have had some serious self-doubt over whether psychology is even the right course for me. Most of the self-doubt best comes from the fact that I am on most occasions, a better client than I am a psychologist. I am two sides of the same coin. Reading this book sort of gave me a perspective of what it is like to be on both sides of the spectrum. The author delves into her own therapy and how difficult it was at first to not feel like her own therapist wasn’t doing enough for her as she thought she would towards her own clients. I am well aware of how that feels because it was in that exact position that I quit seeing my last therapist. Every day, I go through it in my head whether psychology was the best choice for a career. I knew I wanted to be a psychologist when I was in high school. I knew that I needed to be able to give some form of help to those who were like me then, to kids who had never quite felt like they were ‘’normal’’. I believe that I still want to do that, even despite the self-doubt. I still very much want to help people who struggle with their mental health. All I can do is hope that soon, I will get to offer that help.
To finish this off, I would definitely recommend reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. It is a wonderful, insightful, inspiring, beautiful and enlightening read. Lori Gottlieb is a wonderful author from whom I would love to learn more from, especially as a psychotherapist. Be sure to check it out. One can access it on the e-reader called Z library.
Some quotes I picked up from the book that I absolutely loved…
“ we have to let go of the fantasy of creating a better past.”
” When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. ”