The Benefits of Therapy
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to admit when you need help. We like to think that we can figure everything out on our own. After all, we are the only ones living our life, how is a stranger going to help me live it better?
The fact is that sometimes life can be overwhelming. A therapist is a mental health professional with specialized training in helping people overcome life obstacles. We do this by active and reflective listening, being nonjudgmental, offering insight, and suggesting strategies and tools that you can use to help change the way that you do things so that you stop getting the results that you’ve always gotten.
There are so many benefits of therapy. For the purpose of this article, I am going to stick to three.
1. Getting Unstuck
Let’s face it. We all get stuck sometimes.
- Paralyzed to make a decision
- Stuck in our story
There are all sorts of reasons we get stuck. Sometimes it is because of one specific incident. Sometimes it is because of a lifetime narrative of not feeling good enough.
3 Ways to Know if You are Stuck
Sometimes we are stuck and don’t know it. We are so committed to our narrative that we force others to resign to it in order to keep the story going.
This can create conflict where there does not have to be, and only makes us look like we are unwilling to entertain other points of view.
No one wins in this scenario, and in we end up feeing worse.
Below are 3 ways to help determine if you might be stuck:
- You cannot move past a feeling or thought that is preventing you from living to your fullest.
- You believe that there is no other story but our own.
- You blame others for your unhappiness
When we are stuck in our story, we leave little room for anyone else to have a dialogue.
Whether it be a narrative created to make sense of events in your life, or a story that you have told yourself about who you are for so long that you cannot see past your own self-doubt, therapy can help.
A therapist can help you to challenge negative beliefs, historical patterns of behavior, and fear.
2. Resolve Past Traumas
Trauma is basically anything that causes a disruption to your life for a significant amount of time. In a simplistic form, trauma is broken attachment.
We have all experienced trauma in some way or another. I like to think of the big T and little t traumas.
Big T trauma is what we are all familiar with. They include substantial events that shape the tone of our identity. They include things like:
- Domestic Violence
But there are also little t traumas that include substantial events, but not necessarily on the big T scale. Things like:
- A car accident
- Family dysfunction
And then there is secondary trauma. This is when a traumatic event happens to someone you are close to. This could be something happening to your child, a parent, sibling, or even generational trauma from a relative that you never knew (yes, trauma is hereditary).
If you haven’t guessed it by now, trauma is everywhere. Everyone has different levels, but everyone experiences it. A therapist can help you to understand how past situations might inform your present behavior, and can even help you to reprocess trauma so that you are not as affected by it (see http://What is EMDR).
Alleviate Emotional and Psychological Symptoms
It is impossible to get through life unscathed. Even if you had a Beaver Cleaver life, at some point something came up that made you question yourself.
Whatever that something was, whether big or small, sometimes it really rattles our sense of purpose, stability and overall mental health.
Symptoms can take the form of anxiety, depression, OCD, you name it.
We develop these symptoms as a way to handle the chaos that we tell ourselves that we cannot handle. For example:
- If I can remain on high alert than I will be sure I don’t get taken advantage of again (enter anxiety)
- If I touch the fence 4 times in just the right spot, I will have prevented another death from happening (enter OCD)
- I have lost my purpose and I am afraid I will never find it (depression)
A therapist can help you understand how these manifestations have served you, and work with you to develop new strategies so that you can alleviate fear and change your trajectory.
Therapy: Because Life Happens
There are so many more benefits to therapy than what I have explained above.
- Increased self-esteem
- Managing anxiety
- Understanding how past affects present and future
- Symptom reduction
- Having someone to talk to who won’t judge you
The bottom line is that if you are willing to participate in your therapy, you are likely to experience empowerment, understanding of self, and purpose. Who doesn’t want that?
If you are in therapy, great! Keep doing that.
If you are not, I encourage you to consider it. As someone who has gone to therapy myself, I can vouch for its effectiveness.
The biggest thing to consider when choosing a therapist is that you have to feel comfortable. Without a comfortable relationship, it will be difficult for you to want to open up.
Below are some places you can go to look for a therapist.