Phew-ee. It’s been a hell of a few years, right?! Our whole world has shifted. We’ve faced new challenges and concepts, navigated global trauma, witnessed moments of pain and heartache whilst simultaneously trying to ‘keep calm and carry on’. It’s been scary, and it’s been a lot.
No wonder then, that so many people are turning to psychotherapy as a way to process what's gone on. Record numbers of people in the UK were referred to the NHS talking therapy programme in 2021 and around 1 in 8 adults receive some kind of treatment for their mental health. That’s not to say it’s an easy service to access. NHS waiting lists for mental health services are also at an all time high, as our hanging-by-a-thread NHS struggles to keep up with the demand. The role of the psychotherapist is more important now than it ever has been.
In the company of Let’s Pause There we’ve been talking a lot about what exactly that role entails. Not only does it require years of training just to qualify as a psychotherapist, it also comes with a duty to carry the emotional stress of others. And what a burden that must be. Andre, one of our writers (who is also a practising therapist) remarks:
‘The world of psychotherapy is a mystery to many of us. TV counsellors with clipboards asking people ‘how they feel’ is a popular image that springs to mind. But it’s so much more than that. A mirror of our inner worlds, a peek into our darkest shadows or perhaps a brief glimpse of our unconscious.’
It has been a truly wonderful process to make theatre that not only celebrates and educates us about this important role but also allows us all some relief from the seriousness of the world. Comedy has been such a huge part of this play because of course, comedy is a therapy in itself. Andre adds:
‘Mental health problems are a serious issue. But even serious issues can be looked at through a lens of comedy. No one feeling depressed or anxious wants to sit through an hour of triggering and even more depressing theatre. Everyone can relate to laughter. Comic actors that can disarm stress and anxiety through words on a stage, while at the same time reminding us that help can be found are worth their weight in anti-depressants!’
And that’s just it. If we can help normalise the need to reach out for help, to talk to someone, even just for one member of the audience then we will have done a good job. And hopefully make them giggle too.
You can catch Let’s Pause There at The King’s Head Theatre from 7-18 June. Tickets available here.