Psychotherapy. Talk therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Or just therapy. They all refer to the same thing, but sadly seeking therapy often carries a stigma in our society.
While the stigma may exist, it simply should not. People spend large sums of money and countless hours exercising to take care of their body and cardiovascular system. But what about mental health? Is it not as important as our physical health?
Mental health is just as important as physical health and in fact is inextricably linked.
Admitting you need therapy and seeking help is a courageous act of self-care. The stigma around it propagates from those who see therapy as a sign of weakness, or an indication of mental instability.
So, let’s weaken the stigma and explore what therapy is and how you can benefit from it.
What Is Therapy?
In simple terms, therapy involves working with a trained professional (often a licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist) with a goal to care for your mental and emotional health.
In a therapy session, the patient talks about the issue(s) that led him or her to therapy. We said that seeking therapy is courageous, and it is during these talks that require the most courage. It is a vulnerable process of talking about something that may be causing you stress and emotional pain.
The therapist will listen, take notes, ask questions, and provide guidance, insights, and strategies to help you overcome your source of stress and pain. Being open, honest, and providing as much detail as possible to your therapist is essential to get the most from your sessions. As your therapy progresses, your therapist will be able to define a treatment plan specific to your needs.
Who Benefits from Therapy?
Not everyone needs or seeks therapy, but anyone who opens themselves up to the process can benefit. There are many different reasons that people seek therapy, but the more common reasons are to address and heal trauma, ease sources of conflict—whether they be internal or external—in their lives, deal with depression and anxiety, boost their confidence, or to address the myriad problems and emotions that a human can experience.
People don’t seek therapy to talk about how spectacular their life is. People seek therapy most commonly when they’re experiencing difficulty in their life, such as negative emotions. When not addressed, negative emotions can plague your thoughts and even incite a physiological response.
Negative thoughts and emotions, such as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, can create chronic mental stress. This stress manifests in the body as hormonal imbalances, dopamine depletion in the brain (the chemical that generates feelings of happiness), and a compromised immune system.
Some Other Benefits of Therapy
We’ve discussed the benefits of therapy in broad terms. Let’s dig a little deeper to discover a few more specific benefits.
Relief and Validation for What You Are Experiencing
A sense of loneliness is common when dealing with negative emotions and seeking therapy because it is such a personal and internal process. Many people often experience a sense of relief once they have begun therapy from knowing they’re not alone and that their feelings and needs are validated.
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Brain
Along the journey of therapy, you will discover new ways of thinking and approaching life from a different perspective. It’s an empowering process that helps you navigate troubled waters, and in so doing, you are changing how your brain works. New neural pathways and connections are formed in the brain that are bolstered by the continuous work you’re doing in therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly adept at making these changes.
Foster Self-Discovery and Understanding
Therapy on the surface is an external process of talking and working with a therapist. But the real work takes place inside you. It can generate new awareness about your life, your thoughts, and emotions. You’ll gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of yourself. Not only does this discovery have profound effects on you, the tools and strategies you gain from therapy can help others in your life. This is especially powerful if you have children who struggle with mental and emotional obstacles.
The benefits are limitless, and too numerous to discuss at length here. You can overcome addiction, improve relationships and interpersonal skills, enhance decision-making, and replace hopelessness with a sense of hope.
The path to therapy can be a painful and deeply personal process of acknowledging that you need help, admitting to someone else that you need help, and finding a professional to provide guidance. If any of this resonates with how you may be feeling, we urge you to take the courageous steps towards improving your wellbeing through therapy. We have therapists with diverse skills and backgrounds that are here to assist you along this journey.