Beyond the Diagnosis: 7 Reasons Filipino Women Seek Therapy
Seeking therapy is not only for mental health conditions; it goes beyond the diagnosis.
There is no diagnosis for Shamed or a Shamer in recovery, but in therapy these are common issues that may not be considered traumatic but leave lasting imprints throughout the lifespan.
Maria was constantly berated with questions as a child so that her father can find a way to critique her.
Jean was unsure how to please her mother because each time she tries, she fails.
Jose feels his at the mercy of his mother’s peering eyes, and her tsk tsk tsk shaking-head-look can make him stop in his tracks better than a bigfoot footprint can.
These scenarios may not qualify as what is defined as a traumatic event. But they’re what I call Imprints, they leave marks in our subconscious mind, like footprints following you around.
If your father had been so critical of you, it will make sense that you find yourself over-critical at work-spending more time than your boss critiquing your own work. Aya-yay!
BEYOND THE DIAGNOSIS: FILIPINO WOMEN MENTAL HEALTH
Most people I see in my practice, doesn’t have a quantifiable diagnosis. There is a growing myth that therapists only see people that have a mental health condition.
This is false and can do harm in people who needs professional care from a trained and licensed psychotherapist.
I was once speaking to a first time client who asked me, “ So, what’s my diagnosis?”
Would you like one, I jokingly asked.
She said, I thought that’s what therapists do. I smiled.
If you insists, I told her. Here’s your diagnosis- NOT GOOD ENOUGH syndrome.
She smiled back feeling understood.
You can live life until you’re 80 feeling misunderstood and never good enough. But why do that to yourself & to the ones who love you?
Some people may not have any problems digesting negative imprints of their pasts. Others continue to complain of indigestion problems because they haven’t excreted the toxins in their bodies and in their minds.
They walk constipated with guilt and bloated with shame.
When seeking your doctor for symptoms of indigestion, an effective doc will examine the cause of your problem and provide treatment interventions that will relieved or extinguish the cause of your complaints.
Seeking therapy is no different from this process except that when untreated, your symptoms of shame and guilt (& many others) can be transmitted to those you care most about.
This is when we sometimes hear ourselves say-
- I’ve become my mother.
- I don’t know why I keep doing that.
- I just feel disconnected and can’t pinpoint why.
- How do I know if I need to seek therapy?
7 COMMON REASONS FILIPINO WOMEN SEEK THERAPY
This is not a exhaustible list but a list of common issues that I come across with in my practice seeing Filipino Women.
#1 TOXIC SHAME– If you find yourself using this strategy; shaming yourself or your own children- It’s possible that toxic shame is still in your bloodstream (metaphorically). This is treatable.
#2 FEELINGS OF BEING DISCONNECTED– Sometimes there are events that may have primed us to disconnect with our bodies to survive. I find this in sexual abuse victims (some) and it makes sense that this skill to disconnect was honed. It’s a great coping tool for a horrific moment that should’ve happened.
Others may not have this horrific childhood experience but was not sufficiently “felt” by their caregivers. We learn to know our own minds by how our caregivers respond to us in the first few years of life. Without this, we will need to learn on our own. You can slowly learn this in therapy.
*slow doesn’t mean forever & ever in therapy.
#3 ISSUES OF ABANDONEMENT. This can be a traumatic event but it can also be a feeling of being abandoned. The former is easier to detect, for example, a mother leaving a 3 month old baby to immigrate in the States.
But subtle moments can also leave us with this feeling, like dad marrying another woman after being divorced from mom for ten years. Or, being deemed as the “other or the different one” in your family. The therapy room is a safe place to unlearn your heightened system to detect danger for abandonment issues. You will learn to focus on cues of safety instead. If you haven’t heard of hypnotherapy, check out Hypnotherapy for Filipino Women: Is It Effective?
#4 INSECURITIES/ IMPOSTER SYNDROME– The feeling that you’re not on par with others can wreck havoc on your relationships and in reaching your life’s purpose. This is a waste. In therapy, you will learn to get out of your own way without judgment.
#5 PATTERNS OF UNHELATHY ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS- In our younger years, we can all get caught up with the wrong type of partner. But, if this is a recurring pattern for you, talk to a therapist.
You want to be in a relationship that fill you up rather than depletes you.
#6 FAMILY-OF-ORIGIN ISSUES– The feeling that you can only see your mom only on potlucks or special holidays. The feeling that without setting your phone alarm, you know that you’ve reached your 2-hour quota & need to say to mama dear- “See you later!”
When you cannot stand a thing or one thing, it triggers something.
Some people prefer not to work on what triggered them in the first place thinking that this will replicate the origin of the trigger-the pain.
What you cannot feel, you cannot heal according to Marissa Peer.
Good therapy is not about reliving your pain but allowing your body to release the pain once and for all.
#7 INTERGENERATIONAL CONFLICT/GAP – This could be within your family or within yourself. Finding cultural identity is one fantastic reason to seek out therapy. In therapy, you can explore corrective experiences of what it means to be you while understanding who else is in the room (psychologically). The culturally-responsive therapist you seek must understand this.
There are many more I know I missed. You can leave a comment for what you think I should add.
There are plenty of community helpers around from coaches, counselors, and psychotherapists. Seek out someone who has worked in the field for some time and ideally someone with credentials that they’ve trained in the mental health field. If you’re interested in learning how I work, check out Story Therapy blog.
Don’t be embarrassed to seek out therapy. You are in control. You can stop therapy at any time. You can also change your therapist.
Remember that you are the consumer and you deserve quality service.
Seeking therapy is an individual choice. Your mother doesn’t have to agree or make it for you (unless you’re a minor, this has limits too).
Filipinx Women who promote therapy sometimes has reservations being in therapy. If you’re in a position that advocates for mental health, drink the water first that you’re asking someone to drink out of.
By doing this, there is no force in renewing your mission each and everyday, you become the mission.
If you’re considering therapy with me, you can schedule a complimentary consult here.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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