5 Ways That Therapy Can Help You
Think that therapy won't benefit you? Think again?
Many people think that only those with a mental illness can benefit from therapy. Or that only "crazy" people undergo counseling; but that just isn't true. Anyone, regardless of whether they have mental health problems, can get something out of therapy. Here's why:
No matter what you say to a counselor, they will not judge you. They will treat you with respect and empathy with whatever you reveal to them. How many times have you kept something that was bothering you to yourself because you didn't want to be judged? When you are in a therapist's office, you don't have to worry about that. Knowing you say what you are thinking and feeling without fear of being judged is a very freeing experience for a lot of people.
Being Properly Listened To
So often when we talk to people they aren't listening to understand, they are listening to respond. We all know that one person who somehow manages to turn the conversation onto them no matter what you're talking about. When you're talking to a counselor, that won't happen. Even if you ask them something about themselves, chances are they won't respond or they'll say "We're here to talk about you." We all like to be listened to and know that our problems are being heard; in fact, sometimes what we need most is to just be listened to while we get things off our chest. Regardless of whether you are satisfied with your life, having 50 minutes where you know that you will have someone's full attention will be beneficial to you.
Healing Past Hurts
Lets face it, we've all had bad stuff happen to us at some point. To be human is to experience pain. Often times we bury these past hurts because it is easier than dealing with them; but you can only bury something for so long before it rears its ugly head. For a lot of people, the idea of reliving a past trauma is terrifying. In my own personal experience, I know that confronting a past hurt is very scary but once I had, I felt a sense of relief. I didn't know how much weight that trauma had been putting on me until I had worked through it. A therapist isn't going to be able to get rid of the traumatic experience, no one can do that. What they can do is offer you a safe space to confront it and work through it. They will be there with you; metaphorically, and sometimes physically, holding your hand as you work through the pain.
Teaching Coping Mechanisms
We all need coping mechanisms because we all experience unpleasant emotions. There are two types of coping mechanisms; negative and positive. Positive coping mechanisms could be things like spending time with family, reading, or going for a jog. Negative coping mechanisms are things like drinking, spending a lot of money, or doing drugs. It is important that everyone has a "toolbox" of coping mechanisms. This toolbox should be filled with all the basics but also more specific tools. It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to deciding what to put in your toolbox and that's where your therapist comes in. They will be able to help you figure out exactly what positive coping mechanisms work best for you. They can give you a bunch of different things to try and from there you can narrow down which ones work the best. This can sometimes take a while so don't be disheartened if you don't see results right away.
Improving Your Relationships
Therapy doesn't only benefit you but those around you as well. As you go through therapy, you'll find that you learn a lot about yourself. You may learn that you're actually not that great of a listener or that you inadvertently invalidate people's feelings. Once you are aware of these things, you can take steps to change them. None of us are perfect parents/children/partners/etc., we make mistakes and that's nothing to be ashamed of. It can sometimes be hard to recognize when we may be doing something wrong and if you aren't aware of something, then how can you possibly change it? Being aware of your shortcomings is the first step to improving them.
Freedom to Experience Emotions
As a society, we are quite emotionally constipated. From a young age we are taught that certain emotions are wrong and so we deny them. The fact is that emotions are neither right nor wrong, merely pleasant or unpleasant. We are beings capable of feeling a wide array of emotions, to deny them can have a huge negative impact on your mental well-being. Our emotions are often invalidated by those around us, we are told that we shouldn't be sad because others have it worse or that we shouldn't be angry because it's a waste of time. A counselor will never invalidate what you are feeling because emotions are always valid. How you respond to your emotions could be problematic and if that is the case then the counselor will be able to make you aware of that, at which point you can start to learn how to more effectively handle your emotions. Having a space where you are able to fully experience your emotions can help you to become more balanced in many areas of your life.