Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Seeing a Therapist Is Not a Family Affiar

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 41-year-old African-American man, and I decided to see a psychologist to discuss a few of my personal issues. I told my uncle that I went to see a therapist. He applauded my decision, and he told me it takes a strong person to admit that they need help. My aunt thinks it is foolish of me to talk to a counselor. Since my first visit with the therapist, I feel better. I am getting the help that I need. How do I defend my decision about seeing a therapist to my family members? -- On the Couch, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR ON THE COUCH: Many people do not understand the value of professional psychological help. Your aunt is one of those people. That's her issue, not yours. Do your best not to make it your issue.

How you can best manage this situation is to talk to your therapist about your issues, not your family. There is no need for you to update anyone about your progress with the therapist or about any breakthroughs or challenges that you may have. It is none of their business.

Focus on getting healthy. By keeping your mental health treatment private, you give yourself space to explore your thoughts, feelings and issues in a safe space.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Lately, I have noticed that I am transposing numbers and missing words on documents at work on a regular basis. My mistakes are starting to become a strain on my boss. I recently purchased a new pair of glasses to see if they would correct the problem; however, I am still making the same mistakes. I spoke to my boss about my problem, and she suggested that I might be dyslexic. I plan to take a test to see if I am dyslexic, but I am a little embarrassed because I am in my late 30s and I did not know about this potential learning disability at an earlier age. How should I carry myself while I am looking for a place to take this test? Should I tell people about my potential condition, or should I keep quiet until I get my test results? -- To Tell the Truth, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH: Keep your thoughts to yourself for now. Schedule an appointment with your internist and get a complete physical. Ask about being tested for dyslexia. Be prepared to talk about what some of your challenges are at work and in life. Some symptoms of dyslexia include difficulty reading, writing and spelling. Doctors say that people with dyslexia often have difficulty with organization and time management. For a full list of symptoms, visit interdys.org/SignsofDyslexiaCombined.htm.

If you discover that you do have dyslexia, it doesn't mean that you need to advertise your condition. Get support to help you tackle your challenges. Many successful people suffer from dyslexia. It is not a death sentence.