It is true people don’t start making calls and showing up for counseling when life is grand and fulfilling. That is a possible explanation for why some still consider therapy/counseling a rather gauche subject—not to be brought up at dinner time or in front of strangers (or relatives).
It is very human and very American to deny the existence of the dark side (if you will) of life. I don’t just mean our lack of any decent kind of discussion on death and dying, but I mean suffering in general. The enduring myth of the Protestant work ethic might have something to do with it all. The belief that if we work hard enough, long enough, and don’t complain, then the life we want (and deserve) will be right around the corner. And the life we want is without distress or disorder, right?
What brings normal, everyday people into therapy can be distilled into one major subject.
Therapy is all about relationships.
Life-long or transitory relationships we have with others and the ever-changing relationship we have with our self. And so many things can go awry. An existing relationship is ending, or crumbling, or taking a nose dive of epic proportions. There are not enough relationships around, or there are too many relationships draining all the energy in the room. Someone might be in a broken relationship hoping beyond all reason that the old thing will just start up again as if by magic. Sacrifices are given, spiritually and psychically, to the altar of relationships and people lose themselves in delusion and projection.
No one was expecting such complication.
And very few people are prepared for these complications, this dark side of human life. We try our best and learn to endure. But life doesn’t have to be a William Faulkner novel.
Therapy is the opportunity to address all the ongoing and extinct relationships one has. It is the opportunity to clean house, and to gain wisdom and a personalized perspective one cannot find in a book, or a dogma, or an artificial set of rules.
Therapy is about you. A better, more insightful you.