I realize you may be somewhat skeptical based on the title of this post. A lot certainly comes to mind when we think of freedom. In beginning the internal and external adventure of sharing my thoughts, hopes and beliefs I have decided it would be wise to introduce this concept of freedom and explain my heart behind the mission I embarked on when I established Living Free Therapy Services. Freedom is a big word. Lets look at the basic Google definition:
absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.“he was a champion of Irish freedom”
synonyms: independence, self-government, self-determination, self-rule, home rule, sovereignty, nonalignment, autonomy;democracy“revolution was the only path to freedom” antonyms: dependence
the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.“the shark thrashed its way to freedom”
synonyms: liberty, liberation, release, deliverance, delivery, discharge; More antonyms: captivity
the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.“the shorts have a side split for freedom of movement”
the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing).noun: freedom from; plural noun: freedom froms“government policies to achieve freedom from want”
synonyms: exemption, immunity, dispensation;impunity“freedom from local political accountability” antonyms: liability
the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
synonyms: right, entitlement, privilege, prerogative; More antonyms: restriction
unrestricted use of something.“the dog is happy having the freedom of the house when we are out”
archaicfamiliarity or openness in speech or behavior.plural noun: freedoms
While all of these definitions apply, I have bolded the statements that resonate most with what I seek to help others find in therapy. Now you may be asking yourself, “Aren’t I already free?” My response is “Are you, really?” If we look at all the areas of our life can we say definitively that we can “act, speak, or think without hindrance or restraint”? Are there no undesirable things or situations that you are subjected to or affected by? Lastly, are there really no areas in your life where you feel stuck, imprisoned, caged in, held back, or enslaved? If your response to any of these questions is no, then you may be living just short of the freedom that is possible for you.
So what are these things that encumber, enslave, imprison, hinder, restrain, and adversely affect us? They can be any number of specific or general things ranging from minor to major. One common question I get from people in both my professional and personal life is “I don’t need therapy; do I?” I try to be gentle, but usually chuckle to myself as I share my adamant belief that yes, I believe we all do, in fact, need therapy. Therapy is not just for the persistently mentally ill. Therapy is not just for intense, emotionally charged traumatic events in our lives. Therapy is not just for the wealthy; nor is it just for the indigent, uneducated, lower class. Therapy is for anyone who wants to be free and I believe it can help you navigate the way to freedom. You may be thinking that is a bold statement. It is. While I can’t ethically or legally promise any outcome of therapy, I can commit to working as hard as you are willing to work to get you on a better track. There are no issues too big or small for us to manage as a team.
Being a therapist for going on 5 years now, there are two significant barriers to therapy: stigma and access. Stigma encompasses fears related to judgment and rejection from those close to us and those whose opinions we value. My response to this is clear: We ALL need therapy! Since I believe that to be true, coming to therapy does not make you “less than” in any way. Of course this does not reduce the real judgments we all face. I understand that and work with each one of my clients to minimize the impacts of stigma and to encourage and equip each individual to combat stigma in their personal life as well as in the community at large. I personally fight stigma by sharing my personal experiences in therapy which only make my professional experiences richer.
The second major barrier is access and its a challenging one. We all function within our logistical and financial means and oftentimes, there is no easy way to overcome some of these barriers. While acknowledging that truth, I challenge you to consider what your freedom is worth to you. I personally know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to have access to quality healthcare. As a small business owner, wife, and mother to a teenager and an infant I also know what it is to truly be busy. What I also know is the time, energy, and money I have invested in myself through psychotherapy has saved my life, my marriage, my family, my career, and my business, and my relationships. It is because I believe in access to quality services that I partner with Open Path Collective to offer reduced rates for those in need and it is why I am committed to remaining in network with insurance providers despite their continued attacks on rates for therapists. Your life and your freedom matter to me and what you invest in shows what matters to you. This is a very loaded and touchy discussion that I have often and I am open to having over and over if it can help to convince more and more people that you are worth investing in.
I know I have only briefly covered a few topics in this preliminary post, but I wanted to introduce the heart behind Living Free Therapy Services. It is my hope that this blog becomes an avenue for me and my colleagues to share inspiration and information to help reach those of you who are interested. Please feel free to add your comments or contact me directly to discuss how to get started. I am also looking for ideas to discuss and am open to suggestions so drop a comment or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get free!
Melissa Nelson, MA, LMHC, CAP
Owner/Therapist of Living Free Therapy Services, LLC