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GoodTherapy.org unites therapists and the general public by disseminating mental health news and information, challenging mental health stigma, and promoting ethical therapy.
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Noah Rubinstein, a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and social services, launched GoodTherapy.org in 2007 in response to his concerns about the state of mental health treatment in America. He wanted to create a community of mental health professionals dedicated to providing collaborative, ethical services to people seeking therapy, and he wanted to offer credible resources and information that would help people on their healing journeys. Here, Noah explains the reasons he started GoodTherapy.org and why therapy matters to him:
I started GoodTherapy.org to protect people in therapy, to protect the practice of psychotherapy, and to support therapists who work in collaborative, empowering, and nonpathologizing ways.
I care passionately about the potential for psychotherapy because my own therapy pretty much saved my life. As a therapist myself, I’ve also seen therapy transform the lives of others. If you’re a therapist, then you probably understand the honor it is to sit with and witness people begin to love and accept themselves. To guide people who have experienced little, if any, self-compassion in their lives, through the process of opening their hearts to themselves and coming to care for parts of themselves that they’ve disliked or struggled with for years, is incredibly rewarding. To witness lives changing through therapy gives me hope that all people have the potential to change and, on a broad scale, gives me hope for our world.
Certainly, there are many pathways to finding peace inside ourselves and in our world; therapy is just one way. However, therapy carries enormous potential to help people heal and grow. Although the majority of us come into the world equipped and ready to develop into healthy, happy human beings, suffering can’t be avoided. Pain happens. Along the course of our lives, most of us, if not all of us, are hurt and painfully mistreated. Most of us have felt rejected, criticized, shamed, and far too many people are emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, neglected, and/or abandoned. In order to survive in our world, we develop ways of protecting ourselves so we’re never hurt again.
For example, depression, anxiety, addiction, self-criticism, anger, eating issues, and many other conditions can all serve as ways of protecting ourselves from ever again feeling the way we felt when we were originally hurt, often in childhood. As one of my teachers, Dr. Richard Schwartz, wisely points out, these protective parts of ourselves—the ones that often bring people to therapy, the parts that can feel depressed, self-critical, angry, or do other things that inadvertently cause harm—are all actually “good.” They’re good because even though they may be self-destructive or hurtful to others, they're trying to help and they have a positive intention for the individual.
The problem is that if we spend our lives consciously or unconsciously guarding ourselves from being hurt again, we’re less in touch with our innate compassion for ourselves and others, less confident, less open, less curious, and less calm than we would be otherwise. Too many people live their lives stuck in their unhappiness without even realizing it, without knowing that events from the past have constrained them, without knowing that an alternative way of being exists. Therapy not only can help people to see that an alternative exists, it can help people to live that alternative.
The beauty and hope of the therapy process, to me, is that as a person begins to care for his or her wounds and to have more self-compassion, he or she in turn can have more compassion for those around him or her. When a person begins to feel more calm and compassion, it positively impacts his or her relationships and interactions with others, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in big ways. It can create a domino effect that spreads out in every direction, from person to person, impacting and improving relationships both internal and external.
In my own therapy, when I finally cared for the parts of myself that were burdened in childhood, I was filled with understanding and compassion for how tough my parents’ childhoods were and how they did the best they could to raise me. Instead of continuing to harbor anger and seek redemption from them, I was able to deeply forgive them. Without even talking to my parents about it, the quality of my relationship with them changed. It changed not because my parents were different, but because I was different. For me, this is an example of how changing ourselves can help to change the world around us. As Mahatma Gandhi so wisely said, we can “be the change” we want to see in the world.
I firmly believe that as we heal ourselves, we help to heal our world. I believe that if we could all heal the wounds we carry, most of our social problems—problems such as addiction, poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, violent global conflicts, and many more—would eventually cease to plague us. I see psychotherapy as an opportunity to heal ourselves and to heal our communities; this is why I want to protect it.
In particular, I see four main threats to healthy therapy:
Years after I started GoodTherapy.org, I still stand behind these goals to protect therapy and reduce harm. When I was struck with the idea to create an organization that would advocate for collaborative, nonpathologizing, ethical therapy and form a community of therapists committed to treating people as fundamentally capable rather than flawed and deficient, I never could have predicted GoodTherapy.org’s challenging and rewarding journey since. Almost daily, I am touched by different stories from professionals and nonprofessionals about how GoodTherapy.org has helped in ways I never would have guessed. Many visitors to our website have emailed or called to thank us for giving them the boost of courage and inspiration they needed to seek therapy and healing.
I hope you’ll join me and my team and support us in our mission and vision. Whether you’re a mental health professional or not, whether you’ve done therapy or are just considering it, I would love to have your support. I know it's a bit grandiose, but I hope that in addition to illuminating the differences between healthy and unhealthy therapy and helping people find trusted therapists, GoodTherapy.org might help the mental health field to rediscover what mental health is all about. And on a larger scale, I hope people will recognize that psychotherapy can be a path toward harmony—internally, externally, in our families, in our communities, and across the globe. I invite you to join me and my team in challenging unethical treatment practices as well as any fears, myths, and stigmas that keep some people from seeking the help they need to heal and thrive.
There are many ways you can get behind GoodTherapy.org. You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter, share articles on The Good Therapy Blog far and wide, subscribe to our newsletter, let friends know about us, link to us from your website, talk to people about the benefits of ethical therapy, and more. If you're a therapist who meets our membership requirements, you can apply to join GoodTherapy.org here.
Thank you for your support!
Last Update: 2015-03-09