What is the difference between seeing a therapist vs. reading and exploring self help on my own?
Hmmm… Do I look for a counselor or therapist or do I do my own “self-help” journey with books, seminars, etc. I asked that question of myself many years ago, and it is still being asked. To this day, I hear people say “Oh, I’m not “crazy”, so I don’t need to go to a counselor”. Also, the conception that we “should” be able to figure out our own problems and our own issues and if we can’t we are admitting to some kind of weakness. It has gotten much better, but it still is quite pervasive.
So, here’s the analogy I propose:
I am standing on a lakeshore and I must get to the other side, my health depends on it. There’s a special combination of potions that are there and I’ve heard over and over that it will dramatically improve my health. I approach the water, in which I have never been… I do not know how to swim. I flail about, getting nowhere. I try again, I flail some more. I am very discouraged. After a few days of this I notice a book lying in the grass on the shore. The title is “How to swim”. Yay!! I say to myself. But, then I notice another book and then another book and then another. All of them are “learn how to swim books”. As I sit down and start to read I notice the methods are a bit different from book to book. Hmmm, which should I apply. It really is important that I apply the right methods because my health depends on me getting to the other side. I am so caught up in trying to figure out the right methods to use that I don’t do much to actually apply these methods. I am confused and frustrated. I lay down and take a nap, exhausted from the mental confusion.
When I wake up I notice a swimmer in the lake; gliding through the water like a fish. Wow, how is she doing that? How did she learn to glide through the lake so easily and cover distance so quickly? She makes it seem so easy. She comes to shore refreshed and enthusiastic. She looks down at me, surrounding by my books and asks; “Are you trying to learn to swim? Would you like me to teach you?” I reluctantly say, “yes”. She notices unique turns and twists and breathing problems that prevent me from making progress. She shows me first hand how to apply certain skills and then has me try it, suggesting corrections and redirections as she observes my efforts. I am making progress, real progress. In just a few hours I begin to realize: “I can do this, I really can”. The more progress I make the less input I need from her. Little by little I achieve more distance and then one day – “Voila! I am across the lake”