“I’m not crazy, why would I go to therapy?” “They will just try to get me to take medication anyway.” “I can figure it out on my own.” “There’s nothing wrong with me, I wouldn’t benefit from therapy.” “I’m not going to go talk to some stranger.” “It’s not going to do any good anyway.” Questions and statements like these are often said about therapy, but more often than not, they are misconceptions or inaccurate. Even today, there is still a negative stigma attached to seeking therapy, reaching out to someone when help is needed, or even talking about problems in general. Therapy can be a great place to help you figure out issues or stressors in your life and the causes, improve your mood or overall well-being, develop better communication styles, coping mechanisms, or stress management skills, get to know yourself and your needs better, find support or cope with loss, or just have a safe place to talk freely and “get it out.”
During my professional career as a mental health therapist, I have worked with many people who have been hesitant to give therapy a try and who have had misconceptions about the process and benefits. Despite their initial reluctance, there have been five significant themes or benefits that people report experiencing through the therapy process:
You get an outside, objective opinion: Therapy is a time when you can talk to someone completely outside of your life, whether it be socially, professionally, and/or intimately. A therapist can give you an objective perspective since they are not a part of your life, or in contact with the people you are talking about, or have been involved the experiences you may have had. A therapist can then take an outside look and see what you may be missing or needing and provide feedback on the situation. Taking a step back and analyzing the situation can often times be difficult for individuals, especially when they are in the middle of it and overwhelmed by stress or emotions.
It’s completely confidential: Therapy is private and confidential. It is your time to speak freely and openly in a safe, non-judgmental space without the worry of someone “spilling your secret” or talking about it to others in your life. You can feel free to come in, get it out, and know that it is going to stay there in the room and with your therapist.
You don’t have to worry about hurting someone else or having a negative impact on a relationship or situation: Often times, what can be troubling or upsetting could be difficult or harmful to say out loud to someone significant in your life. There are times when we all just need to vent about a person or situation without the possible consequence of it having a negative impact on the relationship, the person, or how someone views another person in your life. Venting your anger, frustrations, disappointments, etc., can also help to decrease the possibility of something building up and erupting down the road.
You can improve or develop what’s already there or learn something new: People are often unaware of all the strengths and resources they already have within themselves. Therapy can help to uncover, strengthen, or develop communication styles, coping mechanisms, stress management skills, interpersonal strengths and understanding, and problem solving tools you already have. Alternately, it can also help you learn new skills or techniques to better handle the emotions, situations, people, and stress in your life.
Being able to talk it out can be freeing: Just being able to “get it out” and talk about something can be liberating and take whatever has been weighing on you away. Sometimes all that is needed is a time to talk, cry, or vent, and let it go.
Starting therapy can be emotional, unfamiliar, scary, anxiety provoking, or bring up a lot of questions as to whether it will help or if it is the right choice. Sometimes you won’t know until you try, but if you are considering it at all or wondering about therapy, now is the time before your situation gets worse. Seeking therapy can be a great strength and provide many benefits, don’t wait until you are desperate. What have you got to lose?