I started seeing a therapist almost three years ago. At that time I was ashamed to tell anyone because seeing a therapist comes with the idea that you have to have something wrong with you. You have to be crazy or you have had to lose your ability to function as a normal human being to see a therapist. But now, three years and three therapists later, I strongly believe everyone should see a therapist.
I have been told, many many times, by a few people that they have tried to see a therapist and that it didn't work out. That they did not feel comfortable, that it wasn't for them, or that they cannot open up. It doesn't always work out the first time you go, especially when the therapist is unfit for you or vice versa, and you are going in with the mindset that you can be or need to be "fixed". My first time seeing a therapist was an absolute joke. I left wondering, "why the hell did I even go?" She was completely unfit for me. She didn't take anything I said seriously, she even made me question if I actually struggled with anything. So a friend of mine recommended I see her therapist, who was also unfit for me. And now, I have been seeing a therapist, who is a man, for a little over two years. The idea of seeing a therapist that is a man is the same "no" your gynecologist is a man. But experiencing them both, I prefer a man. So, I saw it like possibly having a male gynecologist - scary, unsympathetic, and incapable of relating to me in any way. But I was completely wrong.
We already have learned to vent to those around us. We seek advice and comfort from those closest to us and those we assume know us best. We look for others to make decisions for us or to tell us what we should and should not do. We already subconsciously "see" a therapist, but in this case, our friends and family know our personal lives. This causes many problems with relationships. Sometimes when you vent to someone that cares about you or that you trust, their bias opinion about you and what you have been through can seem unfair to you. Understand your friends and family want what is best for you, but they will allow their opinions to come before helpful advice.
And before you see a therapist, you need to keep in mind that it isn't their job to give you advice. That is one thing I struggled with for the first year is understanding that I am not going in there for advice, I am going in their for guidance. That is what a therapist is there for, guidance. To ask you what you think is right and wrong and to show you in ways that you have progressed or regressed. Things your friends and family cannot do for you.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love venting to my friends and family. I love that there are people that I am close to that have been where I am or understand what I am going through, but no matter how much comfort in that I try to look for, nothing compares than sitting in a room with my therapist for an hour and talking about what has been going on in my life since the last session. There is nothing I look forward to more, as sad as that is.
My therapist knows what I need him to know and sometimes I withhold things I shouldn't, but he doesn't ask anything extra of me. When I tell him that I kept something from him he doesn't react in any kind of way that makes me feel like a bad person. I can sit in front of him and cry for a whole hour and not feel judged. Not that I feel judged by my friends, but I feel comfortable. Comfortable that someone is listening to me and not expecting anything else from me. Not only that, but I trust him. Besides it being unethical if he shared my information with anyone outside of his practice, I trust him as an individual. I trust that my information isn't going anywhere and I am not being looked at any differently when telling him anything that is going on.
Although your therapist isn't your friend or doesn't need to be your friend, they are needed. They aren't there to pick sides or give you advice. They aren't there to tell you what to do and they're not there to fix you or your problems. They are simply there to guide you. It is easily one of the best things I have done for myself.
I have something to look forward to and someone I know I can talk to about any and everything. He doesn't make me feel small, he doesn't instill worry in my mind that I am wrong or silly to be upset, and he doesn't make me feel bad about the things I have done. He helps me stay rational when I am being irrational. And although I don't believe that you have to be struggling with anything to see a therapist, I think everyone would benefit from seeing one.