When I was living in NYC it was the thing to go to a therapist. Everyone had one. People left the office during their lunch breaks to go to their therapists. They began sentences with "my therapist suggested…" and borderline bragged about it.
Otherwise going to a therapist has traditionally been seen as a negative thing. Something is wrong with you and you go to the psychologist/psychiatrist to be fixed. When one is going through the process to obtain a security clearance with the US government, on the form you fill out they ask you if you have ever had mental health counciling and if so what for. The question is in the section of questions about drug use and post traumatic stress. There isn't really an option to write, I like going to therapy to better myself. So in other words, would you consider going to a therapist if you weren't in a crisis?
Since having a baby I haven't had much time for myself. I have been all consumed with baby and his needs, wants, and potential needs and wants. Any extra time I would spend starring blankly at Gman while trying to take a deep breath or we would talk about logistics, to-do's, or how cute Noah is. All the while I had so much stirring in my heart. There has been so much change and yet I had never felt more at peace in all my life. For once I have no where to be but exactly where I am. But I also feel a huge desire to mature and grow. When I talked to my sister about it (she is a mental health councilor) she suggested I first read the book, Boundaries When to Say Yes and How to Say No (by Cloud and Townsend), then go talk to a therapist. She recommended a friend of hers in Denver.
That book was completely life changing for me. I didn't even know what boundaries were or why I needed them beforehand. Boundaries aren't putting up wall around you or in between you and your loved ones, like it sounds. It's about saying this is where you end and I begin. You worry about you, I worry about me then we can help each other out along the way. The book covers boundaries with your parents, spouse, children, friends, co-workers, and even understanding yourself more. It is very positive and uplifting. The main message is boundaries are used to establish deeper and more mature relationships as well as to help you carry only your own burden (not everyone's around you as some of us tend to do). I HIGHLY recommend it. It is written towards a Christian audience, so if you aren't Christian just sort of skim past that because the meat and potatoes is really not religious, it reads as common sense.
Once I read the book I started seeing my therapist. Being able to have an hour a week to talk about myself exclusively to someone who was paid to listen and advise me is really a treat. No where else in my life do I have this outlet. It has become something I look forward to twice a month. It is the only time I have that is completely uninterrupted and focused on me. Becoming a mother is truly wonderful, but it is so so easy to lose oneself in the whirlwind of it all. Going to my therapist has not only brought me back to myself but has allowed me to take action in creating more meaningful and mature relationships with myself and the people around me.
The experience of talking to a therapist has also been different than I expected. She doesn't just sit there and go "mmm, hmm" "and can you tell me more about that?" "How did that make you feel?" etc. We start each session with her asking me what I'd like to talk about that week. It can be anything and doesn't have to pick up where we left off last time. Even the weeks where I think, should I cancel? Nothing has really happened. I don't even know what I'd talk about, I end up filling a full hour with discussion. It's wonderful!
From this experience I feel strongly that you don't have to be in dire straights to go to a therapist. You can go to one because you might just have some questions about a relationship you're in or about a decision you have to make or simply just to have some time to yourself about yourself. I have been going since September and have already had some very intimate and confrontational talks with the people most important in my life. I would not have had these conversions in the past. Being honest and speaking with conviction from my heart has changed these relationships for the better and has built a platform for further development.
Not only that but I've discovered I'm an introvert. Who knew?