Why I’m Staying in Therapy for Life

by | May 29, 2024

I didn’t always get what I needed out of therapy. When I was in my twenties, I saw a Christian counselor who was not trauma-informed at all. Therefore, our sessions were a waste of time. It was not until I found Melissa, a licensed mental health counselor who helped me for eight months, that I experienced real life change and healing.  As we worked on one issue, it led to us dealing with many other areas as well. The changes I experienced in my life through those sessions have lasted to this day. One day Melissa let me know that we had arrived at a point where I was healed, and had all the tools I needed to move forward. She said that it was time to wean me from therapy, and move forward with the tools I had been given. I was a little sad that we were done, but I accepted what she said, and we ended therapy.

Over the years, I have regretted that decision.

What I received from those sessions was absolutely transformational. And although the issues I originally went to her for are resolved, life issues didn’t stop. They don’t stop for anyone…and especially for a leader! We have not only the same kind of issues everyone else does in life, but an added layer that we deal with related to leadership.

I started going to therapy again after Gus came into my life, to navigate the reunion process and our relationship in general as well as his death and the grief process. And I’ve decided to stay in therapy for life. I don’t see this as a weakness, I see it as a strength.

A friend of mine told me that her pastor made a comment that, “Therapy is for people who don’t know how to seek the Lord.” I see that viewpoint as weak, and probably coming from someone who has never been in therapy and has many unresolved issues they need to work on. Truth be told, Christian therapy IS one way of seeking the Lord. Christian therapy with a licensed professional trauma-informed counselor has brought the greatest spiritual growth in my life that I have ever experienced.

Here are the list of reasons why I’m going to keep a therapist on retainer for life:

Mental health 

Addressing mental health is just as important as physical health. I get regular check ups with my primary care, gynecologist, dermatologist, dentist and more. Why wouldn’t I do this with my mental health, as well?

Emotional support 

As I already mentioned, the challenges of life don’t stop. But for a leader, they are increased. We deal with other people’s problems too, not just our own. And we have additional layers of disappointment, losses, betrayal, and for Christian leaders — spiritual warfare. Having a therapist navigate those tough times with you is invaluable.

Improved self-awareness

Therapy reveals things about us that we learn in no other way. It helps to have a trained professional spot patterns and other areas in our lives where we may have blind spots.

New strategies 

Therapy sessions have provided me with tools and resources that I need to move forward through the blows of life. These are techniques I wouldn’t have just happened upon unless someone shared them with me, and learned how to specifically apply them to my life.

Personal development

I’ve attended hundreds of leadership seminars and workshops and other avenues for personal development but therapy has taken me further than all of those. I am not the same leader today than I was twenty years ago, and the main reason for that are the changes I made through help I received in therapy.

Building resilience

Therapy helps in developing mental muscle and bounce-back skills. I’ve shown up for therapy many times thinking, “I can’t cope with this one more day,” and by the time the session is over I have received three things to help me do just that.

Customized care

Reading books and listening to podcasts is great, but having care specific to the exact problems you’re going through is extremely valuable.

These are just a few of my personal reasons for continuing with therapy and I hope they are food for thought for others who may be thinking about going for the first time or continuing to go.

What has your experience been with therapy? I’d love to hear about it.

6 Comments

  1. Laura Elizabeth Flora

    Deanna the last few weeks, your blogs have spoken to me so much…. Everything you write speaks to me …

    As you know the counselor I am going to is not trauma informed and I know now that is the type of therapy
    I need ….

    But I do believe God still opened this door for me with this counselor I am seeing.. First in severe depression He leads me to a Christian Life Coach group for a one week of Zoom meetings and I so needed that,
    and then He leads me to a park that is passing out pamphlets on a 12 week government grant for free counseling…

    And even though she is not trauma informed it’s because of just being able to talk about things unaddressed trauma and so much more that I have been able to open up more to others and looked into reapplying for healthcare for myself, among other things….

    For Years I was scared of therapy because people in my life where against it and I wasn’t able to talk about mental health issues either.

    Until I meet you and the tribe I have made at Celebration, Y’all have changed me for the better.

    Not only am I not scared of therapy, I Support it and want to get into the trauma informed type so I can heal …. and I am perfectly okay if it ends up being for life, if it’s what I need, I am no longer worried about what others may think …. 🫂

    Reply
    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am so grateful the blog posts have been helping you. I am praying that you will be able to receive just the right kind of help that you need. Love you lots!

      Reply
  2. Jan McIntyre

    Dr. Deanna, I am so grateful you’re so open about therapy. Thank you for helping make therapy a positive thing for believers. After all the losses I’ve faced over the last few years, I have no doubt that God opened a door for me to have a therapist. She has been a huge blessing in my life.

    Reply
    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      My pleasure to help. A therapist has been THE most valuable resource for navigating my losses, which have been tremendous, especially the past few years. We have a lot in common in this regard, for sure. I am so glad you found a great therapist!

      Reply
  3. Margaret Theriault

    i haven’t had much success with counseling.
    I however was in hospital for 2 weeks. I am 65 and I haven’t been in hospital since my mother took me to my adopted home at 7 days old. I suffered a stroke.
    With support from my friends I contacted my cousin and my mother.
    The night before my mother aunt contacted me. She cried and told me she was sorry. I told her I love you. in 65 years I heard I love you to. She has always loved me. My mother has softened 87. She is not well.What a gift I have.

    Reply
    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am sorry you didn’t have much success with counseling. Most times, it’s about finding the right therapist. You have to try a few before you find “the one.” Thank you for sharing your story with me. Much love to you.

      Reply

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