I absolutely love the beach! It is truly my happy place! The crashing sound of the waves and squeals of a toddler, sights of the sunrises glistening over the infinite water, and the feeling of sand between my toes all bring me great joy and serenity. While it is one of my all-time favorite places, I have a dilemma…my skin. I am what you would describe as one shade lighter than fair. I can walk to the mailbox and burn. I make sure I’ve got my SPF 110 on before ever leaving for the beach, as well as a hat and a beach umbrella. Nevertheless, despite all my best efforts, I still freckle and sometimes get pink. Never tan. Enjoying a vacation where an ocean is involved requires me to take the proper precautions.
I think therapy is a lot like sunscreen. It’s a preventative effort to improve the quality of life. When one begins to notice withdrawal, distance, or tension in their marriage, those are warning signs to see a therapist similar to realizing it’s time to go into the shade. I have had clients who never reapplied or skipped the sunscreen altogether. They come into my office blistered. Many have said they knew they were growing apart, but never got around to doing anything about it. While therapy certainly is the place to work through a crisis, wouldn’t it be better to use therapy as a preventative tool, before a crisis occurs? We all want quality of life. Seeing a therapist is no different than seeing a physician or a dentist for a routine visit or check-up.
Here are some examples of when a therapist can be a preventative measure:
1. While dating or engaged, have some pre-marital counseling to make sure you’re communicating effectively or addressing any issues. Have you discussed finances, work, sex, religion/faith/church, children, expectations, and household responsibilities with one another?
2. If you are expecting a baby, now is a good time to seek therapy to discuss parenting and the responsibilities as well as expectations you have as a new parent. How will this affect your romantic relationship? Also, what are your boundaries for family and friends when it comes to caring for baby? It’s also helpful to seek input from an expert while raising toddlers, children, tweens, and teens for affirmation and more parenting and boundary ideas. What will be your discipline and boundary giving in the home?
3. Have you lost someone and grieved that loss? This would be a way to self-care during your pain. Not dealing with grief can lead to physical issues and more mental and emotional pain if not addressed.
4. Do you wish you had a stronger relationship with your partner, spouse, parents, or children? Now would be a great time to discuss ways to strengthen that bond and grow together.
5. Are you frustrated or do you need guidance in where you are as an individual in life? Are you self-caring effectively?
Anyone can benefit from seeing a therapist to affirm where they are or adjust where they want to go. Therapy is a form of self-caring and it is not a selfish act; “it is an act of generosity for self and others.”