One Careful Owner
When we opened Being Better I joined a women’s business group. One of the members, who is American remarked on the differing attitudes to talking therapy and stated it is an accepted part of life in the States. She went on to say that people regularly access therapy as a matter of course.
What is it about our culture that frowns upon admitting to being in talking therapy? When selecting premises for Being Better we were incredibly mindful of selecting a venue that was discreet in order to preserve anonymity of our clients.
I wondered if it’s a Yorkshire thing rather than a British thing? That stiff upper lip ethos is still very much ingrained. Additionally, as a Yorkshire person there is the “just get on with it” way of being. I was wary of informing my elderly aunt, who is a staunch Daleswoman, about my decision to open a private therapy practice. I anticipated she would view this as tomfoolery and completely unnecessary. I was shocked by her reaction, she acknowledged that there was a need for it, talking about the difficulties in getting a GP appointment and even reflecting on friends who had been “bad with their nerves” and needing to speak to someone. I guess that people are open to therapy and we are certainly seeing more men than women, it’s admitting to it that’s the sticking point.
Wellbeing seems to be on everyone’s agenda yet there seems to be a stronger emphasis on physical wellness. We all know someone, maybe ourselves, who have signed up to a gym or exercise class never to step over the threshold. There appears to be a nod towards the mind as well as the body in the popularity of Yoga and it’s many variations. Mindfulness has certainly been popular over the last couple of years. There still appears to be a taboo or reluctance attached to disclosing being in therapy. Heaven forbid we should acknowledge our feelings and actually express what we are feeling.
We are more inclined to admit to indulging in “retail therapy” to improve our wellbeing and lift our mood. It is not my intention to be critical of this practice. It’s the term “retail therapy” that I take issue with. Shopping and buying things that appeal to us provides instant or short term distraction and gratification, this may be enjoyable but it’s not therapeutic. It can also be a much more costly remedy than any talking therapy.
Research tells us that chronic stress can impact negatively on our immune system reducing our ability to fight infections. It’s not coincidental that physical symptoms often accompany emotional ill health. How many times do we diagnose someone’s ailments being a result of “being run down.”
Is therapy viewed as self indulgence or navel gazing? I don’t think so. I think that the core is that if you are seeing a therapist then something must have gone terribly wrong or you are seriously unwell. If you have experienced some hideous trauma then it is justifiable that you “speak to someone.”
Skipton has been lauded as, “The Happiest Town in the UK.” More recently it has also been identified as one of the best towns to live in. What if you’re not happy? How might that impact on your belief that things can be better?
Going to the dentist may not be a pleasurable experience, nonetheless the majority of us go for check ups in order to avoid deterioration of our teeth and to avoid potentially invasive treatment. Yet our emotional wellbeing does not appear to warrant the same level of priority.
We complain about the lack of available GP appointments and waiting lists to see a therapist or counsellor via the NHS yet often balk at the cost of private therapy.
We would not view hair appointments in the same vein and would be unlikely to consider going a whole year without a haircut, colour or restyle.
We put so much effort into preparing for a wedding or pregnancy, the focus is quite rightly on healthy habits. However, we don’t concern ourselves with the emotional adjustment and change that even positive new beginnings bring.
David and I have been discussing the benefits of a wellbeing MOT, a one off, stand alone session to examine life areas and determine if any attention is needed in any specific area. We felt this may also be productive in attempting to demystify and mainstream talking therapy into an accepted part of being.
An actual MOT is a legal requirement to check if the car is roadworthy and therefore safe. As people we may not be firing on all cylinders but not know why. There is real benefit in nipping something in the bud before it becomes an entrenched complex problem.
Prior to a long car journey, we will prepare by ensuring the car has fuel, air in the tyres, we may even clear it and clean it. There is merit in preparing ourselves for significant change and life journeys. I recall engaging in therapy when a close friend was diagnosed terminally ill. As horrendous as it was I credit my therapy in providing me with some protection for the inevitable loss and equipping me with tools to manage. When things are beyond our control
it is often helpful to feel we are doing something, even in the knowledge that the outcome will remain the same.
Routine daily car journeys take their toll on a vehicle, we are often aware of this but delay responding until the car either breaks down completely or is needed for a long haul and we want to have confidence in its reliability.
Cars that are cherished, looked after and regularly serviced last longer and are generally more dependable. Maybe it’s time we apply the same thinking to ourselves and our wellbeing.
From April Being Better will be offering wellbeing MOT sessions which will last for one hour and a half and cost £45. Love Local cardholders will be eligible for a discounted rate of £40.