Therapy Isn’t a Bad Word

“Would you like to schedule another session?” The words caught me off-guard. The change was almost imperceptible, but it was there. A key word was missing from her usual question: WHEN. “When would you like to schedule another session?” That’s what I was used to hearing.

Had I really done it? Was this the mental health stamp of approval from a therapist!? I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’d been telling her for weeks that I’m in a really good place. And I am. I’ve healed. I’ve grown. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I’ve gained wisdom and experience. I’ve reflected on my past, lived in the present, and found hope for the future.

I got there more quickly than I expected, quicker than my family and friends expected. Was it really just 20 months ago that my husband and I separated? And only 11 months ago that our divorce was finalized? I can give credit to many things for my progress – to God, family, friends, hobbies, adventures, writing – but I have to give quite a bit of that credit to the hours I’ve spent pouring my heart out to my therapist.

“My therapist.” There’s a phrase I never thought I’d use. I admit, in the past, that I raised my eyebrows when I heard friends say they were talking with a counselor. Seeing a therapist. That they were in therapy. It made me uncomfortable. It was outside my comfort zone; it was unfamiliar. It was for the deeply troubled or for the posh L.A. crowd.

But why did I feel this way? We take our cars in for tune ups. We maintain our homes. We meet with our accountants. Almost everything, from oil changes to furnace filter replacements to investment portfolios are checked in on and maintained on a regular basis. And we set annual appointments to see our family doctors, our dentists, our ophthalmologists, our gynecologists. So why don’t we provide the same kind of maintenance for our brains? Goodness knows our emotions see enormous amounts of wear and tear in a lifetime.

Well, let me tell you… I am ever so grateful that I changed my mind. That I picked up the phone in June 2016 and made that phone call. It changed my life… or at least helped me get to a very happy, healthy place much sooner than I would have otherwise.

It is so powerful, spending time with someone who is dedicated to listening to you with complete empathy and without judgment. It’s better than an adrenaline rush from exercise. It’s better than the serotonin boost from laughing. It’s better than an energy drink or a mixed drink or any other thing that you might turn to. (Except prayer. Prayer trumps all.)

Many weeks… I floated out… light, clear-headed, and free.

Many weeks, her office was just a dumping ground for me. A place for me to vent, to let out confusion, anger, pain, frustration. Many weeks, she was a sounding board, as I sought wisdom, as I tried to navigate the overwhelming world of post-divorce dating. Many weeks, she hardly said a word as I jumped from topic to topic, as I relived painful memories, shared personal revelations, reflected on my growth, and described my latest crush with all the giddiness of a 14-year-old girl. Many weeks, I walked in heavy, distracted, weighed down… and I floated out light, clear headed, and free.

And then… as time went on, I didn’t have as much to say. Conversation slowed. And I caught the imperceptible change in her question this time. Would I like to schedule another session?

YES. Without a doubt, yes. I am such a different person than I was a year and a half ago, and I love this girl I’ve found. But despite all my healing and growth, I’m not done.  I want my therapist to pull at the threads that need to be pulled at… to push me… to squeeze every last drop of growth out of me.

I encourage you to do the same. Even if you’re one of the rare ones in this life who hasn’t experienced trauma, loss, or shattered life plans. You won’t regret sorting through your past. You won’t regret getting to know yourself better. You won’t regret healing, growing, and gaining wisdom. You won’t regret setting and achieving goals. You won’t regret healthier relationships. Or a happier you. Just do it. Get past the stigma. Don’t assume insurance won’t cover it. And… put your make up bag in the passenger seat as you head for your appointment. Because, let’s face it, there’s a good chance you’re going to cry it all off. And I hope you do. Because my goodness, it is SO cleansing.

Amber Dawkins
Amber loves jellybeans, morning snuggles, and new adventures. Personality tests peg her as 93% extroverted. She loves to write, but most of the time, you’ll find her behind her camera lens. Amber left her teaching position in 2016 to turn her passion into a full time photography career. She now spends time photographing homes for real estate agents, updating headshots, freelancing for local magazines, and creating branding imagery for businesses by capturing their spaces, products, people, and processes. She also does portrait sessions for families, children, and high school seniors. Amber recently got married in a small pandemic friendly wedding. As mama to one and stepmama to four, she thrives on the happy chaos of a large, blended family. Amber lives with both Cystic Fibrosis and CF Related Diabetes and thanks God daily for His blessings and the medical advances that continue to keep her as healthy as possible.