Many people think that you have to be “crazy” or “going crazy” to go to therapy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Psychotherapy is a tool that creates success. It does not matter what you do for living, cultivating self awareness is crucial to living your best life. Many of us were raised with the sweep it under the rug mentality, things from home should not be discussed externally. This is perhaps the single worst thing that can be taught and that you could do to yourself. This perspective has created a stigma around mental health. Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. Hiding your feelings and emotions deep down and not working through your psychological issues – especially if they have caused you serious pain – can cause more problems than you can imagine in your own functioning but also in your body. Surpressed emotions and feelings can manifest as pain and illness. To put things in perspective, let look at some facts. Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (2013) indicates that anxiety and anxiety-related mental health adversities are a serious health problem in the United States today. Experts have estimated that at least 40 million American adults between the ages of 18 and 54 suffer from anxiety disorders, ranking it one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017). Major Depressive Disorder affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year (NIMH, 2017). Not everyone lives with depression or anxiety, but everyone faces problems in life, struggles with internal dialogues and could benefit from the support of therapy when it comes to their self-growth.
Now that we’ve discussed some facts let’s get to WHY you should give Therapy a try!
- The Long-Lasting Results – One of my personal favorite things about talk therapy is that its effects are long-lasting. Not only are your working through stuff, but you also learn and develop the tools to help you deal with future stuff. I call this the “tool box” in my practice with clients. In the seeing and talking to your therapist, another process begins to internalize within you so that outside of the office setting self-therapy picks up where therapy leaves off. Your relationship with the “self” changes. You begin to talk things through with yourself from different points of view and you use the helpful strategies of self-empowerment to conquer any obstacles that come your way. The “getting-to-the-cause” aspect of therapy is a big reason why doctors reccommend antidepressants and therapy together because together they are believed to be most effective.
It feels good to talk to someone – Yes, we have friends and family but dumping our emotions on them when they are busy with their own lives & problems is not fair. It’s nice to have some scheduled “me-time” at least once a week where you can pour your heart out and work on your own personal goals. When you find a good therapist, going to therapy is like seeing a friend, that sees the best in you, holds space for you, practices unconditional positive regard and empowers to live your best life.
- Physical symptoms get treated too – Feeling sluggish, unmotivated, having trouble sleeping or experiencing debilitating physical effects from your anxiety or depression? Going to therapy, assuming that it is successful, can help diminish these issues. Going back to hiding feelings and sweeping issues under the rug – When you do not express feelings and out of conscious awareness, one’s body will react. Our bodies are incredible. In my opinion, when we are not aligned energetically, meaning there is an imbalance in the connection between our mind, body and spirit, the body will tell you. Acting like a barometer, our bodies scream for help when something needs attention. Our bodies react to stress and psyche pain via body aches, stomach aches, headaches, sleeping problems, and ulcers. A well trained therapist will address these issues, help you get to the root of what is causing the physical symptoms and teach you coping skills (add to your therapy tool box) to deal with them. Often times these issues may require more than therapy, possibly seeing a doctor, but therapy is half of the whole process to healing yourself from these issues.
- Your perspective will change – Not only does therapy help you understand yourself better, it will also help you understand other people better too. When we live a certain way for so long, holding on to negative thoughts about ourselves and others without processing them, they become ingrained. We see the world through that one lens and make lots of assumptions. Therapy allows you to uncluttered, and clear that lens, by getting rid of your assumptions helping you to understand other’s from a new perspective.
- You will become solution focused – Problems come and go, big or small, therapy helps you deal with them in a healthy way. Talking through things with a therapist helps reflect on the evoked feelings leading to a greater understanding of oneself. Overtime you’ll notice your reactions to curve balls change, you don’t get swallowed up by problems, instead you form solutions and plans to deal with them. This benefit is one that comes with practice and will be a long term effect of therapy.
- You will gain a support system – You may be new to a city, going through a divorce or in a phase of life where you feel you do not have anyone on your side. Seeing a therapist can be comforting because it’s like having your own built-in support structure that you can go to once a week.
- It will rewire your brain – One of my favorite things about therapy is that it can change your brain! In a good way! There is research and scientific evidence through brain imaging that shows psychotherapy can rewire the brain. I personally use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my practice with clients, which is empirically supported modality, which helps people learn new ways of thinking about and responding to the difficulties in life. CBT targets depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses by helping patients to identify dysfunctional thought patterns and beliefs, and ultimately to replace them with healthy ones. When we rewrite our deeply-ingrained thought patterns, quite literally we rewire our brains.
- You’ll learn new things about yourself – When you first meet a therapist and begin to form a therapeutic relationship with them, they only know the things you share. They are looking at you and your life experiences with fresh eyes, something the people closest to you can try but can never do. A good therapist will help you reframe your thoughts, making you feel empowered for the things you never thought were anything special and they will point out things that will help you learn more about yourself. You have to be authentic and you can not hold back who you are. Being honest and forthcoming with information and what you want to work on will help you get the most out of therapy.
- It will help you step out of your comfort zone – Therapy helps us learn that it is okay to be who you are, vulnerable and open to change. Therapy can help you step out of the safe zone so you can experience more of what life has to offer! Through challenging limiting beliefs and conquering self – doubt, therapy may help you achieve not only your personal goals but also your professional goals.
- It will enable you to teach the next generation how to live more positively – Many of our ideas, thoughts about the world and ourselves originated in the family system, in our schools and communities at a young age. Therapy helps to heal, teach you new ways to deal with old problems, and changes the way you view life overall. The many positive benefits do not stop within your mind & heart, therapy shows you the good in you so that you too can help others find the good in them. If you plan to have children or are a parent (or maybe you are or want to be a role model in your community) therapy can help you build a vocabulary of feelings early on which will help you model for the younger generation. Break the old thought patterns of your family system, model a life for the youth that shows self-compassion, that shows being vulnerable is okay and talking about how we feel is welcomed & encouraged. BE the change you want to see in the world, right?
All around we see people starting to open up more and more about their personal struggles and mental health issues. Slowly but surely the stigma seems to fade.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to open up important dialogues about mental health. This blog post only includes TEN of the many reasons why you should give therapy a try!
Till next time!