Opinion: Seek to understand, not judge

“Only crazy people go to therapy.” We have all heard someone say this. Many of us may have also thought it, too.

But why do we think this? Why has the idea of therapy gained a stigma that pushes people away from seeking help instead of allowing them to go and find the help they need? How is it that in one of the most developed countries in the world, we refuse to acknowledge the fact that many people need help, but reject it because of the judgement they would face?

When confronted about these problems, most people say that they had no idea that they were being insensitive to people’s struggles or that all that they had said was “just a joke.” While these statements could be excuses, many times they are said in complete honesty. As a country, we are ignorant of problems such as this simply because we do not understand them. The only path to understanding is through education. Although America is a highly developed nation, education on subjects that could be (and many times are) considered controversial is rarely taught or even about talked about.

People who are struggling with problems are stereotyped for trying to find a way to heal. These quick judgements can spur those who are close-minded to ridicule the people whose loved ones go to therapy or those who see a therapist themselves.

While this mockery can be purposeful, it can also be said unintentionally. People who joke about the stigma of therapy may not be malicious in their original attempt, but the use of this problem as a punchline should never be a option. Not only do these jokes cause the ridiculing of many people, but they have also caused a negative light to shine on what the basis of therapy is.

Therapy is simply a curative process for those who have been hurt or broken, mentally or emotionally. As a society we do not shame those who go to the doctor because of a fever, so we should not judge those who see a different type of doctor for a different type of illness.

Since there is a stigma in our society against attending therapy, many of us who suffer and are broken in silence refuse to seek help. When we discriminate against those who admit that they need help, we discourage many people from getting the healing that they need.

Admitting that you need help does not mean you are crazy. Actually, it’s far from being crazy. Having the courage to realize and fulfill your needs shows a clarity that many people may not have yet found in themselves. You are never alone in your struggles, and there are people all around you who love you and will help if you just ask.

Next time you think about making a negative comment concerning therapy, realize that someone who could be struggling might overhear it and lose hope for a better tomorrow.

If you or someone you know in the Seabury Hall community needs someone to talk to, both Ms. Pirsch and Reverend Jackson (Kahu Kawika) are willing to listen to anyone who comes to them.