The word “therapy” can bring up all kinds of negative connotations. It’s notorious for conjuring horror movie-like images of people lying on couches talking about all the ways in which their family effed them up while self-absorbed therapists nod silently, and after years of this eventually tell what’s wrong with them. While these stereotypes are of course rooted in some tiny truth, the majority of therapists do not operate in this manner and most people could actually benefit from a bit of good, solid therapy at some point in their lives.
Of course, as a therapist I may be slightly biased. Still, in case you’re curious, here are some potential benefits of therapy...
We all like to think we’re self-aware. And to some degree most of us are. However, we also tend to operate from our own self-generated schemas that alter the way in which we view the world and ourselves in it. Our perception of a situation will never be wholly identical to someone else’s. So we always have a bias. Therapists can help provide an unbiased view of ourselves and our life that sometimes we or those closest to us can't.
Or increased others-awareness. While connection is not food, shelter, or water, it’s still a basic need. There’s significant documentation of all the horrible things that happen to humans when we’re not physically touched and there are similar effects when there’s a lack of social and emotional connection. We're meant to be pack people and when we don't feel connected to those around us or don't have anyone to connect with, it often manifests as depression and anxiety. The nature of the therapeutic relationship is connection and a therapist can use that relationship to improve connection in one's everyday life.
Regulate Emotions/Improve Mood
Regulators… mount up! According to the World Health Oganization (WHO) an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates the lifetime rate of anxiety at 30%. That's a ridiculous amount of distress. Some sadness and anxiety is normal because it provides us with necessary information. However, we live in a stress-filled society that doesn't teach us how to cope with and use our emotions to our benefit. Therapy can teach and help you to develop these skills. As well, therapy has been shown to be as or more effective in improving mood disorders as psychiatric medication.
We’ve all been wounded. Some are broken bones, some are paper cuts, but we’ve all experienced trauma on some level. And we need to heal in order to move forward. While you can heal on your own and there are as many ways to heal as there are to wound, therapy is one method that’s been proven to be beneficial in the healing process. Whether you need to talk it out until it no longer haunts you, develop some coping tools or learn about other healing methods, a therapist can provide a safe space to do that.
Other Life Skills
There are many things we are “supposed” to learn as we grow up and that we depend upon our caregivers (parents, other relatives, teachers, coaches, other trusted adults) to teach us. Unfortunately, not all of our caregivers are appropriately equipped to teach us every life skill and suddenly we find ourselves as adults struggling to balance our checkbooks (if that’s even a thing anymore) or our entire lives. Therapy isn’t simply “talking about emotions” but can actually provide concrete skills to navigate every area of life. This can include anything from managing those pesky, yet beautiful emotions to communication skills to locating resources (because while I could teach you to balance your checkbook you’d probably benefit more from someone who’s an expert in finance).
There are times in everyone’s life when Darth Vader sneaks in and steals our Force power. And for some it may seem like there was never any Force power to begin with. Now I’m not talking about superficial power, like a CEO of a company who makes their minions work on Saturdays and sends their junior manager to Starbucks just because they can. I’m talking about authentic power, the power that exists within, God/universe/whatever you believe in power. The kind of power that tells you you’re worthy and deserve the best simply for existing. The kind that allows you to ask for what you want and set boundaries with others, while also exhibiting compassion and kindness toward others. That kind of power. Therapists should exhibit that kind of power and empower you to empower yourselves. Now that’s a lot of power!
According to Forbes only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. I didn’t actually read the article so I don’t know all the reasons behind this but I would imagine accountability fits in there somehow. Many of us believe we can accomplish great successes without support but it’s much easier to give up on a goal when no one’s watching. However, when you have a cheerleader in your corner it’s much more difficult. Whether it’s out of guilt or shame (Psych! We never use those!), we just want you to succeed. Weekly (or however often) appointments provide some structure to accountability when you struggle with that on your own.
Ponderance of Existentialism and other Deep Thoughts
Sometimes you just need someone to ponder the very existence of your existence with and family/friends/coworkers just aren’t cutting it. Enter therapist/supporter of you as a philosopher.
Of course, there are many other benefits of therapy so you can always google “benefits of therapy." Or contact FUNdaMENTALs for more information. Overall, know that you can benefit in any way imaginable if you’re willing to fully engage and put in the effort to know yourself and grow.