I was 15 when my mom first suggested I go to therapy. I was never depressed or had a mental disorder, but I was in the throws of puberty and the hormones that come with it. The hormones rushing through my body turned me into the classic teenager. Slamming doors and angst included. 

Although initially skeptical, I decided to go to the therapist my mom suggested. After a couple appointments and one session in complete silence, I decided to stop seeing this therapist. I was embarrassed by having to tell people I had a mysterious "appointment" after school that day and I felt like I was one step away from being carried away in a straight jacket. My mom was a big proponent of therapy; after a traumatic incident in her 20s, she started consistent therapy and swears by the ability of professionals to guide people towards recovery. Regardless of this, I was still a young teen and if people found out, I thought my social life would be over.

Somehow I handled the turmoil of freshmen year and most of sophomore year, but when I had a falling out with my closest friend the spring of sophomore year, I revisited the idea. I felt out of control, alone and hopeless. My social life had fallen apart and I felt unable to connect with any of my friends. I have always used my mom to talk to and would often text her or leave her notes to signal I needed someone to talk to, but she was under qualified and overwhelmed with my breakdowns. She was unable to give me responses and I needed someone who was a professional.

At this point, I decided to give therapy another try; my mom found another therapist in my area and I started off by going once a week or whenever I could fit it in my busy schedule. I used my therapist as a sounding board and a listener for any issue I had in my life. She provided a place for me to have an hour to deal with myself in a time I was so focused on my performance in school, standardized testing and college. She was able to let me dump all my emotions on the table and sort through how to deal with what I was feeling. You might still be a skeptic, but the stigma against therapy is built on misunderstanding. So, what are the reasons you don't want to go to therapy?

I don't want anyone knowing my secrets

Guess what? By law therapists cannot tell anyone what you say (unless you are putting yourself or others in danger). This means you can tell them your deepest secrets and they wont tell anyone. 

I'm not depressed, why should I go to therapy?

You don't have to have a mental disorder to attend therapy. Therapy is a useful to achieve any goal you have, make it through any set back or just feel like a better version of you. Therapy is a great resource for anyone that does have a mental disorder, but it isn't exclusively for those with mental disorders. 

If you or someone you know suffers from depression or other mental illness and needs help, call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Why would I talk to a stranger when I can talk to my friends or family?

Friends and family are amazing resources and they are great listeners for the small stuff, but at the end of the day they aren't professionals. Licensed therapists are trained in helping you. They know how to deal with any issue you have; friends can try but when it gets dark and twisty, a therapist knows the right thing to do. 

Won't they just make me dig up old issues?

In therapy it might feel like you are focusing on the past, but trust your therapist and don't be afraid to ask about their methods. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to deal with the past. 

Isn't therapy me lying on a couch talking about my feelings? 

It can be if thats what you want, but therapy is what you make of it. Each therapist has different methods, but therapy is about you. Whatever way is best for you to open up, that option is available. 

At the end of the day, therapy has to be something that you want to do and you have to be willing to put in the work, but overall therapy shouldn't carry around such a heavy stigma. When I started being open about my experience with therapy, I realized that there were tons of people around me that had seen the power of therapy. I have now finished my first year of college and still use my therapist as a way to further in self improvement.