There are many kinds of therapy. Physical therapy, chemotherapy, psychotherapy. Some people believe in the powers of retail therapy. I'm a big fan of caloric therapy.
Basically, therapy is meant to heal. Whatever is wrong, we try to find a therapy to fix it.
Now, even within the field of psychotherapy there are many different disciplines and styles. Each therapist has his or her own way of trying to help people. I've seen several different therapists professionally and while they each helped, they did so in varying ways.
Therapy can be scary. The idea of going to see a therapist is intimidating. I know. I had to overcome this, too. And sometimes only a professional therapist can help. Sometimes you need answers that only they can give you. Or sometimes they can recommend exercises to help you work through something. Or maybe you need medication.
But in all my experiences with therapy over these last few years I have learned one very important thing. The most important element in therapy, for me, is having someone listen to me. Having someone value me. Having someone give me a reality check and tell me I'm not crazy for feeling the way I do.
Some therapists are better at this than others. Some have difficulty remaining silent long enough for me to say what I'm trying to say. Others think they know what I mean without checking in to see if they've interpreted me correctly. Then there are those precious few. The ones who get me. They understand. Much of our communication is unspoken but completely understood.
And now that I've worked through most of the major things I've found a less expensive way to get the validation I need.
I call it girlfriend therapy. Me and one or two friends out at lunch, talking for 2 or 3 hours while we eat. Listening to each other. Validating. Valuing. Or maybe it's a quicker session and we go get ice cream or a slushie. We talk in the car on the way there and back, and for longer than we normally would in front of her house when I drop her off.
It's more than just being with another adult. It's more than just a break from the everyday routine. It's knowing that I'm with someone safe -- emotionally safe -- who cares about me and truly wants me to heal.
Sometimes a night out or a lunch with a big group of women is wonderfully satisfying. But nothing can beat that one on one intimacy. That moment that says, "I put the rest of my life on hold to be with you today because you are important to me. How can I help you?"
And the funny thing is that it is healing for everyone involved. Even if I go intending to be the listener, the giver, I still come away feeling so much better. So much stronger.
And most importantly I feel valued.
Just like with therapists, if it's not a good fit keep looking. If you haven't found the right friend to truly help you feel more like yourself when you're with her, keep trying. Chances are there are many women out there searching for the same thing. A relationship of mutual caring. A confidant. A listening ear. Some truly healing girlfriend therapy.
Not only is it much cheaper than traditional therapy, it's also much more rewarding. And right in your own neighborhood.