Who needs therapy when I have tea?

A cup of coffee is the real therapist.

A conversation with my BFF is all the therapy I need.

Vitamin see is my therapy

Whenever we talk about taking professional help for remaining mentally fit we often hear such phrases, however, the difference between a cup of tea/ going on a vacation/ having some conversations with friends, and therapy is exactly as the difference between surviving on painkillers v/s curing the disease.

Therapy goes beyond talking to a friend and self-help. It’s a far cry from both of them. It isn’t what is shown in media their portal makes it look like general talk. Indian media has a flawed and comical portal of therapy and mental illness. From Akshay Kumar being a psychiatrist and performing the role of an exorcist to judgmental hai Kya showing depicting crazy as the new normal. Shows like family man portray a couple going to therapy where the therapist goes on tossing quotes to sound witty and giving open advice. Dear Zindagi did a somewhat better job but they still missed out on some details canceling the session at the last moment leaving the client abandoned. Showing therapy sessions in media makes people see that it’s okay not to be okay. Understanding a therapist can help overcome the issues but only when the depiction is appropriate. Appropriate depiction helps people set up the right expectations. The unfortunate truth is that actors playing therapists or making movies on suicide attempts end up taking their own life. They don’t feel comfortable asking for help themselves because mental health is still taboo in most parts of the world.

Therapy initiates a relationship with a therapist providing a safe place where you are understood, heard, safe, not judged, and supported.

A therapist focuses on you. You are the star of the show with the spotlight on you. Everything in a session focuses on helping you cope and improve. They provide you with the cognitive and emotional skills to cope with life’s challenges. A therapist doesn’t talk about their problems and issues, rather the focus is solely on you. They don’t know you outside the session so they can’t be influenced by personal feelings. The challenge is to face the troubles you keep avoiding.

A therapist has at least a Master’s in psychology, they have been licensed and trained professionally in the field. Although sometimes the conversation might seem casual, it leads to uncovering your life experiences. They pave the way to uncover unconscious beliefs and thoughts helping you understand and change. A therapist is legally obligated to keep your secrets.

Millions of books, posts, and videos in media about self-help aren’t made for you specifically or cater solely to your symptoms. Self-help might be informative but it is limited and generalized. It’s always a one-way conversation, you are just listening. Books can’t de-accelerate you, the post can’t help de-accelerate your nervous system and videos cannot mirror the in-person experience of being with another human.

Mental health is usually considered to be a first-world problem, but the truth is that mental health is a problem in every part of the world, it is just that first-world countries acknowledge them! There is no shame in going to therapy. It’s not just white people’s things it’s for any and everyone who needs it.  Friends and self-help are both important but can be a replacement for therapy. It provides you with a safe place without any triggers.

Friendship conversations and self-help tools are not, and will never be a replacement for therapy. You should never stop working towards becoming a better version of yourself or stop discussing issues with friends but nothing replaces therapy when it comes to finding a permanent cure to all your mental health problems!

If you are feeling uneasy, do take a mental health assessment here

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