Whether or not you are suffering from a diagnosed mental health condition, therapy can be a helpful tool. Life is full of surprises. Changes in health, family dynamics or a romantic relationship can be difficult to navigate. Seeking support from a mental health professional, outside of your family or friends, should never be viewed as something to be ashamed of. As humans, social interaction is an important component to mental health. The idea that you should be able to deal with certain pains in life on your own is a false one.
Here are a few ways therapy can help:
- You get an outside perspective. Having an objective person share their observations during a personal dilemma is often helpful, especially when you may be too emotionally invested to see the big picture. For some, it can be difficult to admit that we are struggling, even to our closest companions. Your therapist is legally and ethically obligated to keep your information and what you share in session confidential. Additionally, your therapist can hold you accountable so you can stay on track with your goals.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help. One of the hallmarks of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is identifying the negative thinking patterns that can distort our reality. A CBT oriented therapist can help her patient to recognize these thought distortions. CBT also points to the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If you can change your thinking, eventually you can change your response to certain distressing situations.
- The power of the relationship. Carl Rogers, the father of “person-centered” or humanistic therapy, posits that there are three essential ingredients of a successful therapeutic relationship – unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathy. The act of stating your feelings out loud to another person can help you to hear what you are actually saying and feel like a release. For this reason, having a nonjudgemental person there to hold the space can be therapeutic in and of itself.
- Therapy can give you tools for dealing with life. Maybe you have some bad habits you are trying to break or you are tired of blowing up at your significant other. A trained mental health professional can help you identify coping strategies to manage difficult encounters. In therapy, time can be spent exploring certain triggers, communication patterns and automatic negative thoughts which could be at the root of these maladaptive behaviors.
- Therapy rewires the brain. The results are well documented. People who engage in therapy become more self-aware, report increased self-esteem and develop more positive habits. Over time, therapy can change the way you think. Why? Recognizing your own thought patterns is the first step to changing them.
Some things to keep in mind:
Therapy is a process, not a quick fix. In most therapy settings, the goal is for the client to be able to implement changes in their life, outside of the office. A successful therapy case takes work from both therapist and client. It can take some time to build a relationship with your therapist and for a lot of people, it may take some time to find someone who is a good fit.
If you are struggling, ask for help. Remember you don’t have to do anything alone.
Understanding how psychotherapy works http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx
Does cognitive behavioral therapy change the brain? A systematic review of neuroimaging in anxiety disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19622682
The healing power of the therapeutic relationship http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/person-centered-rogerian-therapy/