While my sister was dating her now-husband, we were all attending the same college. She and I were roommates in an off-campus apartment, and my would-be brother-in-law lived nearby. Naturally while you’re dating someone, you want to make sure things don’t go too fast too soon, but everyone could tell that my brother-in-law and I had a sibling bond early on, and I selfishly hoped they would be together forever. (Spoiler alert: they’ve been married for 12 years and my two-year-old nephew is the coolest little guy on the planet.)
I was taking an Intro to Counseling course my sophomore year, and one of the assignments was to record a mock counseling session with a friend using the tools we’d learned in class. Our friends were more than welcome to share completely false scenarios, but they could choose to share a true personal story as well. I asked my sister’s boyfriend if he would help me out. He was more than excited to do it.
Much to my surprise, he’d planned to use our “session” as a way to elaborate on how much he liked my sister and how he was getting excited about the life change of being in a serious relationship. He lay on the couch in his living room, fully jumping into the “client” experience, while my sister sat blushing at the dining room table. We all laugh and almost cringe about it now, but it was one of the most enjoyable and sincere ways to complete a homework assignment. And it truly embraced the concept that therapy is for everyone.
Even though he was lying on the couch, looking like every stereotypical therapy session in a movie or television show, he was being vulnerable. And therapy is all about acceptance and growth through vulnerability. Whether in an actual session with a licensed counselor or with friends taking a college course, vulnerability is a key part of the therapeutic process and essential to personal acceptance and growth.
I am currently in therapy and have been, on and off, for 10 years. A lot of this is due to the fact that I have a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder—among other things, but I also value the time with someone who has wisdom in areas of life that I have yet to acquire. I include wiser, older friends that are more like mentors in this category, too. I can call them at any time when it pertains to things about my career, friendships, an unspoken prayer request or a complaint. I know they will graciously and confidently give me the truth in a way I need to hear it.
Then, there’s my family. I have an amazing husband; I’m close with both of my parents, and my sister is my best friend. Of course, my brother-in-law and I occasionally host impromptu counseling sessions with each other at family functions or even via text: “Hey, you good?”, “You like your therapist?”, “You getting sleep?” Neither of us naturally elaborates on our feelings, so I appreciate our occasional but intentional check-in’s.
In addition to time with friends, going to church, sitting on our front porch, and other self-care habits, there is also the hair salon. While safety and budget impact how often I go, there’s something near magical about that place. The last time I sat down to get my crochet redone, every stylist and client was singing along to ‘old school’ Lorde and Rihanna hits playing on the radio. That therapeutic vibe of women who get you, connecting through music you all loved before you knew each other—it’s unmatched. Add on the gift of fresh braids and evenly placed lavender locs? It’s my happy place.
This week, I get to go watch my husband coach our toddler’s soccer team, and afterwards she’ll be spending the day with my parents. She can get some grandparent time and I can catch up on a show that isn’t on the kid’s side of Netflix. I’ll also see my therapist this week, and my husband and I will be planning an upcoming road-trip/vacation. Life will resemble most other weeks as I continue to work and possibly lose sleep a few nights, but I know that I will be intentional and make sure that I am not only resting but growing as a whole person.
What are you doing this week that could be considered your therapy? How are you taking care of you?