Why Therapy isn’t So Scary…as explained through 30 Rock gifs

A few weeks ago I was at a panel on mental health and one of the student panelists had a great line: “At college you get assigned an RA, an academic adviser, and even a personal librarian.  What they really should assign you is a therapist.”

My personal librarian was assigned to me, and I knew that she would be glad to help, and that everyone else in the class had either seen her or wished they had the time.  I never thought like I would be a burden for asking for help when it became too hard to find information, and I certainly didn’t think it made me any less of a student.  Yet when it comes to going to a therapist, there’s a lot more hesitation.   People have less of an idea of what it means to go to a therapist than they do to go to a librarian.  So to clear up some common misconceptions, I present “Why Therapy isn’t so scary… as explained through 30 Rock gifs.”

When you think of someone who goes to therapy, most people think of someone like this:

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You don’t need to be “crazy” to go to therapy, and going to therapy doesn’t make you crazy.  Therapy is a place to explore your past, to figure out how to solve things differently, or to have an objective observer listen to your day.  Everyone could use a pair of trained ears, and you don’t need to have a problem to benefit from therapy.

Some people like to take pride in their struggles.

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But going to therapy isn’t going to negate that.  Instead it can help you learn how to turn your experiences into the person you want to be.

Does this mean I’m suddenly going to have to confront all my deepest, darkest fears?

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Maybe.  But what’s super cool about therapy is that YOU get to control what happens in it.  Want to go deep and unpack your childhood trauma from when the teacher ran out of horse stickers right when they got to you- go for it.  But you can also use the space to decompress about what is going on in your life and the best strategies for handling right now.

But doesn’t going to therapy mean I’m not the superstar everyone thinks I am?

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Nope.  Going to therapy doesn’t mean you can’t still be a role model.  It doesn’t mean you can’t still be there for friends, or that you can’t talk to your friends about your personal problems.  And it doesn’t mean you need to become a therapy advocate.  It just means that you are choosing to take some to take care of yourself in a particular way.

How can I be the super-awesome, taking 10 classes and involved in 16 different clubs  and go to therapy?

That’s why the resources we have at Barnard are so wonderful!  We have so many different options, that one should fit into your schedule.  Check out the bottom on the post for the entire schedule!

I still don’t think therapy is for me.

And that’s ok!  A lot of people can benefit from seeing a therapist, and it may be right for you at a different time in your life or not at all.  You also don’t have to stick with the first therapist you see.  Just like we don’t instantly click with everyone in a class, you might not like the style of the first therapist you get assigned.  Don’t be afraid to speak up if it’s not working, or even to request one that specializes in specific issues/identities.

Regardless of how you feel about therapy and if it is right for you, remember to make self-care a priority during the semester.  Everyone’s self-care is different, and don’t force yourself to do something because that’s the “only” way to relax or care for yourself.  Do what makes YOU feel happy and healthy.

Furman Counseling Center Hours: 

Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm

Phone: (212) 854-2092

Location: 100 Hewitt Hall, First floor

Pre-scheduled evening appointments: 

Mon-Thurs: 5pm – 7pm

After-hours Psychological Help LIne

(877) 941-1695

Listening Hours: (Walk-in sessions available in the evenings)

Plimpton Hall: Mondays, 7-9:30 pm

Elliot Hall: Thursdays, 7-9:30 pm

The Athena Film Festival Approaches!

My favorite spring event at Barnard is the Athena Film Festival, which celebrates film portrayals of women in leadership roles. This year, there are a bunch of great movies, shorts, documentaries, and panels on the schedule that feature strong, complex, and overall pretty awesome women who work in front of or behind the camera. It is apparent to even the most casual watcher viewer of American movies that there is a serious gender imbalance; only one in three women in these films hold speaking roles, and 78% of the protagonists are men. Behind the camera, the picture is pretty bleak too: 16% of all directors are women, and the proportion of female writers, cinematographers, and executive producers are not only similarly low, but have even shrunk since 1998. (The Celluloid Ceiling, an annual report on women in the film industry, found here has even more information). The Athena Film Festival is a great way to get to see stories about women that aren’t infuriatingly one-dimensional and meet the people behind the films. There are classes, panels, and workshops with lots of women prominent in the film industry like Debra Martin Chase (producer of The Princess Diaries, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and more), Callie Khouri (producer of the TV series Nashville and writer of Thelma and Louise), Laura Karpman (an four-time Emmy award-winning music composer), and Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Laureate. Overall, it seems like a great way to spend the weekend – more information about the movies can be found here!

These are a few films that peer eds recommend/ are interested in seeing:

Filly Brown: Filly Brown is an inspiring portrait of a young artist striving to seize her dreams without compromise.

Rebel: Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez, Confederate soldier turned Union Spy,  is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. Who was she?  Why did she fight?  And what made her so dangerous she has been virtually erased from history?

In a World: In A World… brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.

Farah Goes Bang: Awkward twenty-something Farah Mahtab hits the road with her buddies K.J. and Roopa to stump for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, hoping the trip will also be her opportunity to lose her virginity.

The Book Thief: Based on the bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs: Grace Lee Boggs (BC ‘35) is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman living in Detroit. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the civil rights movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.

Happy viewing!

Fit and Feminist

Trigger Warning: Body image issues, eating disorders                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I love to move my body.  Like many people, I’ve often struggled feeling comfortable with my body, and it brings me happiness when I’m able to find a point where I am able to embrace the strengths that my body has and not focus so much on how little it resembles the bodies of women in the media.  I love to practice yoga and work out because it makes me feel strong and happy, not because it makes me look conventionally beautiful.

This is why I feel so uncomfortable when I come across those “thinspiration” photos on the internet. It’s an extreme version of the “No pain, no gain” that many gyms seem to thrive on.  As someone who has struggled a lot with body image issues, it scares me how they glorify starving your body and conforming to a societal idea.

Yet I also feel alienated by a lot of rebuttals to “thinspiration” like the nutella memes:
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Memes like this just make being skinny and enjoying food seem mutually exclusive, which isn’t the case at all.  Shaming people because their bodies are conventionally beautiful is still problematic.

And while I appreciate posts like these:

415aba82b9d499115e634a0de688240eWhile I’m happy that Kat Dennings is proud of her body, anorexia isn’t something you “try” out for an afternoon.  It is a very real mental health issue that has as much to do with control as it does with food.  Framing any mental health issue as a choice only contributes to stigmatizing treatment.  Anorexia isn’t a diet plan.  It’s a controlling force that slowly controls your whole life.

Which is all to say I was so happy when I found Fit and Feminist.  I finally found a site that approached fitness as way to be healthy, and didn’t shame anyone.  It wasn’t about pushing yourself, it was about enjoying yourself.  They even have a whole series of memes that address those thinspiration photos like this:

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Do you also often have trouble finding fitness places that are body positive?  How do you deal with it?