We all have our own ways of dealing with life’s difficulties. While some find meditation helpful, others prefer to seek comfort from loved ones.
But no matter what your preferred coping-mechanism is, we can all do with a little extra support from time to time. And one of the most effective ways to get it is by talking to a professional.
Before you dismiss the idea of seeing a therapist, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the benefits of therapy are far more comprehensive than many people realize.
Read on to find out why everyone should consider therapy at least once in their lives.
Understand Yourself Better
If you’re wondering what is therapy and who is it for, the truth is, therapy is a helpful tool for everyone.
Many people mistakenly assume therapy to be for people who’ve experienced trauma or those with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Of course, the benefits of counseling are often invaluable for those with mental health issues. But therapy can also be a way to establish better emotional well-being and gain personal perspective.
Even if you consider yourself in tiptop mental shape, therapy can help you take a closer look at yourself. You’ll learn more about how you appear to others, why you feel certain emotions, and how your emotions affect your everyday life.
Gain New Insight Into Other People
As well as helping you understand yourself better, therapy also gives you new insight into other people.
Sometimes, our negative thoughts and experiences can taint how we see the world. As a result, we can often make false assumptions about the people we know and their intentions.
Discussing these thought processes with a therapist allows you to reflect on and question your viewpoint. You’ll also come to see how it can end up misrepresenting the people in your life.
With this new insight, it’s often a lot easier to understand other people’s behavior. And in turn, it also helps strengthen relationships and avoid misunderstandings.
Learn Tools to Help You in the Future
Many people see therapy as a way to work through issues that remain unresolved from the past. But that’s only part of the picture.
One of the biggest benefits of psychotherapy is that it provides the tools to help you deal with future conflicts and problems. The positive rewards of therapy are long-lasting, and often continue to grow and develop over time. In fact, much of the work you’ll achieve in therapy will become consolidated later as you’re confronted with new experiences and problems.
Through talking with a therapist, you’ll internalize how to think about, talk about, and express feelings. Much like the real test of professionals such as doctors and lawyers comes after exams and graduation, real-life situations will give you the opportunities to put what you’ve learned in therapy into practice.
The way that therapy continues to help you, even long after you’ve stopped seeing a therapist, makes using it alongside medication a more effective way to treat issues such as anxiety and depression rather than relying on medication alone.
Clarifies Your Thinking
Going over and over problems in your head can often make them seem bigger and more overwhelming than they really are.
Talking with a therapist in counseling helps you vocalize your problems. This then allows you to narrow down the real issues at hand and give your problem a defined structure. In this sense, talking about what’s bothering you is like editing a piece of rambling writing by cutting out all the repetitions and disorganized fluff.
Sure, at first you’ll spill out everything that’s bothering you, adding every passing worry or thought into the mix. But over time, therapy will help you clarify your thinking. Through this, you’ll be able to streamline your giant problems into manageable pieces that become easier to confront and resolve.
Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to ‘deal’ with problems and psychological disorders is very common. In fact, around four million Americans are currently dealing with a ‘Dual Diagnosis’. This is when someone with a serious mental disorder, such as PTSD or depression, also has a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency.
Of course, trying to block out problems with addictive substances doesn’t do anything to address their cause. At best it masks the underlying issue, and at worse, it can exacerbate your problems and damage your mental health.
Do you find yourself reaching for drugs or alcohol when times get hard? If so, one of the benefits of seeing a therapist is that it can force you to confront your problems rather than helping you avoid them. And, as a result, you can work on breaking this destructive cycle.
Rewire Your Brain
As well as helping to improve the way you deal with your problems, therapy can also change the biology of your brain.
We can appreciate that medication helps to alter the depressed brain. But there’s compelling evidence to show that therapy does the same. Using brain imaging technology, research shows that psychotherapy changes activity in the areas of the brain responsible for emotion, fear, and self-referential thoughts.
One particularly effective type of therapy is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This method helps people replace the negative thought patterns they tend to fall back on with more constructive mental habits. As well as helping people experience less depression and anxiety, CBT also leads to measurable brain changes.
Recognizing the Benefits of Therapy for Everyone
As this range of benefits of therapy shows, there’s a lot more to therapy that you might have realized.
Far from being just for those who need help with mental problems or trauma, it can be a useful tool for everyone. Therapy holds a mirror up to your way of thinking, feeling, and acting, and can be a great way to help you consider things from a new perspective.
For more self-improvement advice and tips, check out our other lifestyle posts!