Bekkerus: Everyone needs therapy

Columnist Paula Bekkerus explains the reasons why everyone should be in therapy. 

Paula Bekkerus

If you’ve read my other columns, it should come as no surprise to you when I say I’m a huge advocate for taking care of your mental health and de-stigmatizing mental illnesses. You will also not be surprised when I say that we should all be in therapy.

I’ve been in and out of therapy since my freshman year of high school. I’ve seen religious therapists, I’ve been in group therapy and I’ve used telehealth. In the end, I’ve greatly benefitted from it all. Many of my close friends are also in therapy, and they tell me how much they benefit from it. 

But therapy is not just for those who live with mental illnesses, trauma or otherwise. Even if you see yourself as the happiest, most light-hearted person in the world, I think you could still benefit from therapy. Everyone has emotions — whether you’re sad, happy, angry, frustrated or anything in between these huge umbrella terms of emotion. 

No matter what you’re feeling, though, part of therapy is learning how to manage and accept your feelings, as well as recognizing that you are in control of your thoughts and emotions. And finally, therapy is about becoming the best version of yourself that you can be.

Going to therapy isn’t about never feeling sad again. It’s not about your therapist “fixing” you. The truth is, therapy and the journey to your best self are an unending and tenacious process. There are ups and downs; there are days when you take one step forward, and there are days when you fall 10 yards behind where you were. But the point is that you’re moving, and you’re making an effort. 

I won’t say it’s easy — because it’s not. I won’t say you’ll find the perfect therapist right away — you most likely won’t. I won’t say it’s a short process — it’s not. But what I can say is that if you start, and you stick with it, you will find something good, both in yourself and in your experience. 

Now, it’s not as easy as saying “just start therapy!” There are about a million barriers to therapy. Therapy can be expensive, even with insurance. It can be a struggle to find a therapist where you feel safe and valued, especially if you have a marginalized identity. For example, it’s difficult to find a therapist who is a person of color, part of the LGBTQIA+ community, or both. 

Another large barrier to therapy is the stigma behind it. I’m not embarrassed to write to the world that I’m in therapy, and that’s because I consider it normal. But not everyone feels the same way. Many people think therapy isn’t for them because they’re not struggling with mental illness, or because they don’t want to be called “crazy.” This is also a reason why so many kids under 18 are denied therapy — their parents may believe something negative about it and not allow it. But being vulnerable is not bad. Working on yourself isn’t something you should be ashamed of. You should be proud.

If you have access, I highly recommend connecting with a therapist and starting your journey as soon as possible. It’s hard, daunting work, but it is fully worth the effort.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness: Iowa

Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine: Mental Health Resources

The Trevor Project

Iowa Healthiest State Resources and Hotlines

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If you or a loved one is in danger, call 911.