Over the years, as I have met with hundreds of clients from all different walks of life, I have heard this same question over and over. Whether it’s spoken aloud in a trembling whisper or silently asked from beseeching, tear-filled eyes, they all ask, “Am I broken?”
People often walk through the doors to my office feeling defeated and destroyed, wondering what it is about who they are that is so insufficient that they can’t live their lives without ending up in therapy. I see couples who are embarrassed that they couldn’t “fix” their marriages on their own, parents who are ashamed that they don’t have all the answers for their children, and individuals who believe they are hopeless cases. They feel like ending up in therapy means they have failed somehow. But is it really failure?
When I tell people that I’m a therapist, I almost always get some variation of the following question, “What’s it like to sit in a room and listen to people’s problems all day?” And every time I get it, I’m always confused by it. To me, it’s like asking a photographer what it’s like to push a tiny button on a black box all day. I see my job as so much more than that, so much more complex and heartbreaking and joyful and intense and peaceful and connecting and healing and beautiful than just listening to someone’s problems all day.
I have the immense honor to sit across from amazingly resilient people who face difficult things with courage, who rise above abuse to become gentle and loving, who fight with everything they have to overcome the voice in their head that tells them they will never be good enough. I sit in total awe as I watch people change and learn and grow and love.
So when my clients ask me, “Am I broken?” my answer to that question is always a resounding, “No!” No, you are not broken. You are facing something in your life that is just too big or too difficult to face alone and that certainly doesn’t make you broken. It simply makes you human. You may feel broken and I have a heart full of empathy for that very real pain. But when I look into your eyes, I don’t see broken, I see hurting. I see struggling. I see stuck. Just as if your car was stuck in the mud or snow, it doesn’t mean that your car doesn’t work, it just means that you need a little push, a little direction, a few tools to prevent getting stuck again, and a friendly face to help you while you get some momentum.
So when you consider attending therapy, whether for yourself or for someone you love, remember, you are not broken! Attending therapy takes a huge amount of humility and courage; humility to admit that you can’t do it alone and the courage to face the things in your life that are difficult or scary. Therapy is not an admission of defeat; it’s a roaring refusal to go down without a fight. And someone who can do all that is definitely not broken.
If you or someone that you love is considering counseling, contact us at Utah Valley Counseling by calling 801.407.4134 for an appointment or for a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our therapists.