Not so long ago, most people wouldn't readily admit that they were using the services of a therapist. It wasn't the sort of thing that would pop out on a first date, in the supermarket queue or during a chat with your next-door neighbour. Perhaps they thought they would be seen as mad, bad, sad, or a combination of all three, topped off with a coating of 'weak'.
Nowadays mentioning the dreaded 'T' word is actually seen as far less taboo. Due to the greater prevalence of stress and mental health problems, everybody seems to know someone who is in therapy, and is in a better place to understand how issues may come about. Luckily the stigma around getting a helping hand is starting to shift - and quite right too.
Because seeing a therapist means that you are actually the sort of person who is willing to strive hard to be the best person you can be. People who make the effort to change are much more laudable than those who steadfastly refuse to address their issues, or who go through life content to be miserable and spread that misery to everyone they come into contact with.
People who seek the help of a therapist have the nous to recognise that all is not well and have the courage to face up to that, even if their problems are painful to go through, or have been caused by memories or people they'd rather not acknowledge.
Let's face it, most of the stuff that people go to therapists for is not caused by themselves. Even the paths of self-destructiveness that people may seem to be on, such as addiction, are usually preceded by some trauma, mental health problem or issues within the family.
So today I'd like to tip my hat to the people who seek therapy, coaching or any type of help to change, with a quick run-down of my top five qualities that I admire in my own clients:
Responsible: People who take steps to resolve their issues are ultimately very responsible people, no matter what their actions before they choose to do so. The main reason why people behave badly is because they're in pain. Finally deciding that you're willing to address your issues and change your ways, especially if you understand the heartbreak behind them, is a pretty damn responsible thing to do.
Courageous: Even the people I see with anxiety disorders have a massive amount of bravery to even try to confront their issues. I know when I had an anxiety disorder many years ago, it took me a long time to summon up the courage to ask for help.
Strong: People who ask for help when they need it are strong people. It takes more strength to admit you need help and to ask for it than it does to hide away, pretend everything is fine, or to refuse to confront your problems.
Determined: It takes determination and grit to embark on a journey of change, especially if you know that it will probably involve navigating some rocks and shark-infested waters. It is easy to revert to poor, but familiar, coping mechanisms. It takes spirit and guts to take the harder options.
Inspiring: It is infinitely cool to want to better yourself and clean up your mind so that you can be the most effective and healthy individual possible. My clients never fail to inspire me with the changes and progress they make on their voyages of self-discovery. Watching each one blossom and bloom, despite their struggles, inspires me every day.