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Breaking the taboo of psychotherapy

Joanna Pidanty - November 4, 2021 - 0 comments

There are areas of exclusion that we fear to talk about openly. Mental health issues are deep in such a taboo zone. Taboo concerning the mental sphere can vary in severity and each community has its own challenges in breaking such taboos. Globally, there is no social consent to weakness and overt demonstration of the fragility of one’s psyche, and therefore a weaker mental condition, disorder, disease is a reason to be ashamed. In an image preserved by that taboo, admitting to having used a psychotherapist’s intervention is tantamount to admitting to a mental illness. The taboo makes resorting to the aid of specialist, in order to restore or maintain mental health, far less understandable as doing it to save physical health.

The harmful taboo

Taboo is associated with ignorance and fear of the consequences of breaking an unwritten restriction. A taboo does not need to be justified, it does not have to be right, it is nourished by fear that lives in the collective consciousness. Taboo around what concerns the psyche is conducive to disinformation, the growth of myths, the consolidation of stereotypes, and above all, it prevents taking action in the area covered by the taboo. The psychological sphere is not discussed in schools and at home, not only is there a lack of knowledge on how to care for mental hygiene, but also the proper lexical resources to initiate such a discussion. Our attitude towards mentally ill people is expressed in the vocabulary used in a given environment. The existing abundance of pejorative terms and the growing feeling that mental issues are a source of shame perpetuates the taboo. The lack of ingrained neutral expressions, that would not violate the dignity of a person suffering from a mental illness or disorder results in the lack of the ability to objectively talk about psychological topics. We can’t talk about it, so we don’t. And if anything, it is a mocking or contemptuous language. After all, each of us can experience a mental illness in the course of our lives. Depression takes an ever greater toll, and the existing taboos do not improve the fate of patients, who can be cured, among others, thanks to psychotherapy. We consider ourselves an open and progressive society, so it’s time to overcome these obstacles, it’s time to break the unnecessary conspiracy of silence.

It is a shame to admit it

There are reasons why patients do not start psychotherapy, even though they need it. Among them is the social cultivation of taboos condemning one to face their mental problems in solitude. Breaking the taboo equals to being condemned to unpleasant consequences, in this case in the form of stigmatization or even self-stigma. A person suffering from a mental problem often feels resistance and shame to admit it, even to oneself, that they need help. The fear of stigmatization and self-stigmatization pushes the thought of seeking the help of a specialist. Due to the existing taboo, a person in need has a tendency to hide their mental state from themselves and the world for fear of triggering the stigmatization process. Lack of knowledge and education strengthens the taboo, which in this case appears as a harmful phenomenon that inhibits people considering psychotherapy or other psychological help. We react late, when the problem grows, thus supporting the myth that only people with serious problems reach for psychotherapeutic help.

The taboo expresses the conviction that psychotherapy is used only by those people, who are extremely disturbed and helpless in life.

Difficult topic

Unfortunately, the use of therapy meets with a lack of understanding and disapproval, so it is not easy to mention participation in psychotherapy for fear of social stigma and rejection. What will you think, when someone tells you that they are attending psychotherapy? You may feel no less discomfort than your interlocutor who just shared this information with you. Only a few will say that having your own therapist is an ordinary manifestation of caring for health. Lack of a pattern, knowledge and communication convention makes it better not to mention this difficult and inconvenient topic. Revealing the fact of using psychotherapy may cause fear and preventive distance based on ignorance. And although you know that mental illness is not contagious, you would prefer not to have a weak, sick, disturbed, troubled, helpless, unpredictable, or even threatening person in your circle. And since that person goes to psychotherapy, according to the myth you are familiar with, it must be such a person. But is it really so?

What do you know about psychotherapy?

What is unknown causes fear and that is why breaking taboos should start with building knowledge of what psychotherapy is. Complementing this body of knowledge requires the identification of the competences of mental health professionals. Surely you’ve heard of a psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist. These people provide support, but in different ways. A psychologist deals with psychological diagnosis, a psychiatrist is a doctor, and therefore may order pharmacological treatment if necessary, and a psychotherapist is a person authorized to conduct psychotherapy. It is possible to combine the profession of a psychologist, psychiatrist (in accordance with the law in force in a given country) with the profession of a psychotherapist after completing the required training and necessary certification.

Psychotherapy is conducted by a professional and serves to improve the quality of life of the person, who participates in the therapy.

Psychotherapy in the case of people with depression, anxiety and phobias brings relief from suffering and improves functioning. Psychotherapy can help healthy people understand themselves better, regulate their thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Psychotherapy is an opportunity to restore mental balance, achieve well-being, good relations with the environment and with yourself. The therapy also has a positive effect on the zone of psyche, as well as on the somatic zone associated with it. This is important information for people suffering from physical ailments with psychogenic background. Meetings with a psychotherapist are an opportunity for your own development and an expression of responsible care for yourself. A multitude benefits, so why does this fear of knocking on the psychotherapist’s door persist? Among other things, the silent taboo that prevents you from improving your own health and life.

Disenchant psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can evoke unfavourable reactions in those people, who have little knowledge of it. By experiencing the psychotherapeutic impact, we not only strengthen our health, but also receive the necessary understanding of our situation and begin to understand ourselves better. When you feel that your mental condition is weaker, do not hesitate to play down your mental condition. With your open attitude, you are able to break the taboo concerning psychotherapy. Thanks to the innovative medical device, the VR TierOne, you can experience the benefits of psychological support in an unusual way. VR TierOne therapy was developed by a certified psychotherapist, and thanks to being conducted in the virtual scenery of the Garden of Rebirth, it gives us a sense of comfort and safety. The use of colourful therapeutic content in Virtual Reality makes the psychotherapeutic effect more pronounced and is also perceived as attractive by the session participants. Positive impressions from the therapeutic world of VR TierOne are conducive to talking about psychotherapy without taboos, stigmatization and prejudice, disenchanting psychotherapy from the unjustified shame of being its participant.

The valuable experience of VR therapy helps to look from a different perspective at the psychotherapeutic aid.

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