Therapy and Counseling
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Therapy is particularly stigmatized among the FIRE community. For a community who prides itself on being self-sufficient, resilient, and entrepreneurial, the act of directly asking for help is taboo. This is particularly true among men, who are historically reluctant to seek help. However, therapy is a tool and failing to use every tool available to achieve a goal is atypical for those likely to achieve FIRE. Let’s discuss how therapy/mental health services might help you achieve your goals. To start, let’s talk a little about what therapy is.
As always, this is not medical advice. If you need medical care, please seek it!
From popular culture, many people envision therapy as laying on a couch while a tweed-wearing older gentleman asks you questions about your dreams. While tweed-based graybeard therapy certainly happens, it is not the standard. This association likely reflects the western world’s familiarity with Sigmund Freud, who practiced this type of psychoanalysis among other things. However, it’s not common and certainly isn’t the right thing for everyone.
Therapy takes on a number of different modalities. The above could be considered dialogue therapy and it might include psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, or a number of others. These are very useful in the right circumstances. Often, they’re beneficial for illuminating and mitigating underlying trauma, even if that trauma is not media worthy or otherwise heinous.
When we experience things as children, we react by adapting. The defense mechanisms we create in adaptation may be overtly construed as positive. They may push us to be exceptional, stoic, sober, masculine, rich, self-made, or others. Among those on FIRE, the need to achieve big things is very common. However, once there’s no longer an objective goal to reach, success becomes more subjective and opaque. The absence of concrete measures of success can make defense mechanisms requiring external validation obsolete, leading to dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, something making us want to be exceptional may also impose on us the need to always be exceptional. Dialogue-therapy seeks to identify the ways in which events in our lives guides us to require unreasonable things of ourselves and our worlds. To that end, dialogue-based therapy may be beneficial for many of us.
Therapy also includes a number of non-dialogue-based therapies. This includes Reiki, yoga, meditation, and many others. While one may find similar benefits to the above, these forms of therapy often target the body’s responses to the above dissatisfaction. For example, meditation seeks to create more awareness of how the mind and body react, giving a practitioner as sense of control over them. Having a better understanding of our how our automatic circuitry reacts gives us another tool with which to improve our responses and thus our well-beings.
While it won’t be possible to give recommendations for specific locations for the above treatments (since the internet covers a lot of geography…), suffice it to say that there are both in-person and online options for most forms of therapy. Not all options (or practitioners) are right for everyone, so please find the option that offers you the greatest benefit.