Embracing Therapy: Larry Owereh

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), behavioural therapy, counselling, art therapy, group therapy, coaching, social care, family therapy, neuro-linguistic programming… this is just a small list of therapies available to you, all depending on the type of help, guidance or assistance you need in life.

The idea of beginning therapy isn’t an easy journey to embark on. It requires commitment, dedication, vulnerability and an understanding that you may not get all of your answers to all of your issues or questions. But the beauty of therapy is in knowing that you will be heard and hopefully leave with a better understanding of yourself.

When I started therapy right out of university, I thought I was ready to discuss issues I had with adjusting back to home life; new job, friends and family but I was seriously unaware of the depth of questioning, unravelling of trauma, origination of problems and how I really felt about things. Instead of feeling heard I felt I was being grilled and misunderstood. Upon reflection and with a mature head on, I realised the therapist was just doing their job – finding out the root of my issues and trauma. After a few sessions I didn’t return. I just wasn’t ready for what was being unearthed and brought up. I would leave vulnerable and unsure. But that was because I went in with unrealistic expectations and a fairy tale understanding of what therapy was. It was more than just talking and sharing but really about understanding the root of my issues.

Fast forward some years later and I had abetter understanding of what therapy was really about. We ALL have trauma; whether childhood and adulthood. There have been moments in life that have shaped our outlook on life, our personality, our character, whether in advertently or purposely. Therefore, CBT/talking therapy, is a great way to really “understand yourself better, help resolve complicated feelings and recognise unhelpful patterns”. So, this time I was able to walk into the therapy room and sit on the therapy chair with an understanding that we were going to go all the way BACK to childhood and the events that affected or still affect me to this day!

This time around, I also wanted to be specific with the type of therapist I wanted –a Black, Christian, married man (a long list, I know, but very important tome). Having someone who looked, sounded and had similar life experiences to me was very important to me because I wanted someone who just understood. I didn’t want to have to explain, shy away or not be myself. I could just talk and be understood. Better this time also as I went to therapy with no pressing or current issues that I was dealing with, I just wanted to talk and understand myself better before transitioning into a new stage of life.

So going to therapy isn’t always about going when you have issues you need to get through. Similar to the gym, you go even when your body is in shape, the same way when you need to get in shape. Therapy is like the gym for the mind - it allows you to run though issues or bench out questions you might have in mind. And different workouts work for different people; as listed in the opening paragraph, maybe group therapy will allow you to understand other people’s perspectives or you're not a talker and painting is your best outlet.

Selecting the right therapist is also important. Shopping around is perfectly fine and acceptable, you should never feel trapped in if you pay for one session. Some people prefer to choose someone who looks like them so that they are best understood or comfortable. Others choose someone who is the complete opposite so that they have someone who will question what is deemed as ‘not normal’. Any choice is fine.

Either way, I believe that everyone should go to therapy! At least once to better understand themselves and their life. If done correctly, it could be the best personal investment ever made. Below are some therapy resources to help get you started:

Your GP/NHS

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy – https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists

The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network - https://www.baatn.org.uk/

Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/

Frontline Therapist - https://frontlinetherapist.com/

 

Larry Owereh is a mental health advocate, paralegal, writer and founder of “Through This Mind – Normalising the Conversation” where he shares his mental health journey and others to remove the stigma around talking about mental health, particularly amongst men and in the Black community. More of his work can be found on his website www.ThroughThisMind.com


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