Clinical Social Work, Social Work, Social Work
I'm a licensed professional.
LCSW - LCS 21604
I know it can be really difficult to reach out and make that first phone call. There are many reasons why people hesitate: finances, stigma, shyness, anxiety about trying something new. And what would your friends/neighbors (etc) think, if they knew you were going to therapy? But you know what? If you don't at least try, you'll never know if it could have helped you. Even if it doesn't, it's a pretty good bet that you'll learn at least something useful from the experience. (And your friends/neighbors/etc., might not think anything bad about you for trying it--they might be in therapy themselves, actually!)
Therapy has been around for a long time because it tends to work. Humans are social creatures. We are herd animals. Our nervous systems actually use each other to regulate themselves. That's why it's much easier to solve these problems with help and support. It's very difficult if not impossible to heal interpersonal wounds in isolation. A trained professional usually has skills and neutrality that your friends and family don't; and often, it's nicer to not have to burden them with this stuff on an ongoing basis.
This idea is itself based on a flawed and incomplete understanding of human nature. Going to therapy does NOT mean that someone is "weak", "flawed" or "crazy". It just means that you are human and your system needs a little tune-up. I've heard many people say (and I agree) that everyone can benefit from therapy, at some point in their lives.
Whether or not we want to admit it, people need each other. Our strength is in numbers. We are herd animals; that is how we evolved. If you are a lizard, you can pop out of the egg, flick your tongue and be pretty much ready to scurry away and eat a bug. Humans, on the other hand, are much more complex. We are born helpless and incomplete. We literally build our nervous systems via our interactions with our caregivers. Since no parent is perfect, even "good enough" parenting leaves a few holes in the structure, which therapy is designed to repair.
This attitude of "just suck it up and keep going" can be useful on a short-term basis. But on the long term, it's kind of like continuing to take Novocaine for a sore tooth without fixing the problem. The underlying problem may seem to hurt less; but it tends to deteriorate underneath. Bottling emotions and experiences tends to be really damaging to the person doing it. In my experience, learning how to recognize, and deal with emotions, and then let them go, is very healing. Therapy is a great (and private!) place to do that.