The idea of starting a therapeutic journey is intimidating, scary, and often is a choice that is not considered lightly. Anecdotes that clients share include being “dragged” to therapy by a family member, being told that they need “help” as an insult, or an idea that came from an inner voice saying that something is “wrong.” In reality, however, therapy is not a punishment, nor a last resort. While there does continue to unfortunately be a stigma around seeking mental health care, the growing idea of self-improvement, support, and self-care is helping to decrease some of the more negative aspects that therapy can be associated with.
There is no set “type” of person who can benefit from therapy – therapists, and the therapeutic models that they use, vary widely, as do their clientele. Therapy can help when there is a more immediate problem or crisis, but therapists can also be beneficial for individuals seeking to increase their knowledge of themselves, want assistance with a major life change, or want to increase their coping resources. While there is too much variance to list all of the benefits of therapy – and because it can be such an individualized process – some of the more universal benefits are presented below:
Therapy Helps You Learn
Understanding your own motivations, some of the patterns that you engage in, or to help identify some of the more complex emotional experiences, are some of the benefits of therapy. You may learn about specific neurological underpinnings of emotional phenomena, or may benefit from having the objective neutral view of an outsider point out some of the habits and repeated behaviors that may be puzzling to yourself an others. It also helps to uncover some of the origins or roots of the behaviors and actions that we engage in, in the first place. Understanding these driving forces can help increase the self-compassion that we feel for ourselves, not to mention the self-awareness of what we are doing in the first place.
Therapy Helps You Vent
A benefit of a therapist is that they are there to support and be present with you unconditionally. When you are angry or upset about the injustices of your life – and you feel that you have no safe space to unload these feelings, therapy is a place to sort through these feelings, and to develop a game plan that includes self-preservation, as well as authentic assertive expression. Therapy is literally a safe space – nothing will leave the therapy room unless you permit it to, or unless your or someone else’s safety is in danger. Your therapist might be able to provide objective and supportive alternative points of view for your feelings as well.
Therapy Helps You Heal
While not everyone experiences a major traumatic event, life comes with ups and downs, bumps and bruises. Having a dedicated time, place, and person to help process these life experiences, to own your own life narrative, and to create a plan to move forward is hugely beneficial. Therapy can be a place to re-experience some of the scarier life experiences in a known safe space. It can be a way to say some of the things that have been unsaid, or to nurture an inner self that may feel voiceless. Knowing where to seek therapy, and that support is here for you, can be a major step in a life changing experience.