There are many reasons why everyone should go to therapy, regardless of whether or not they’ve been through serious trauma. According to statistics, approximately 1 in 10 people around the world are living with a mental health problem of some sort. Many people also have unresolved trauma from their past, or unhealthy habits to unlearn. Do all of these people go to therapy? Definitely not. Should they be going to therapy? Absolutely.
1 in 10 people living with mental illness is likely a lower estimate than reality, since tragically, too many mental health disorders go undetected, undiagnosed, or brushed under the rug.
Fortunately, more online awareness has been raised surrounding mental health and wellness in recent years, and the negative stigma around mental health struggles is rapidly being erased. Therapy and counselling sessions are increasingly more affordable, and apps such as Calm and BetterHealth are bringing attention to the benefits of checking in with our mental health.
If you can’t afford therapy, you still have options. University students are often looking for people to give free counselling to as part of their practicum. Victims of certain crimes get free counselling by filling out an official form. Your employer might even cover counselling as part of your employee benefits. Lastly, you could save up money for counselling by prioritizing your mental health over trivial things like a new pair of shoes. It’s undeniable why everyone should go to therapy, and you’ll likely find it’s worth the money if you end up having to pay for it.
For many people, therapy is an integral tool for maintaining good mental health. In 2019, nearly 10% of the U.S. population received some form of therapy. However, more people need to go to therapy, as it would make the world a better place if everyone learned healthy ways to express anger, emotional mindfulness, and more.
At one point or another, we all get stuck behind roadblocks that negatively affect our mental health. A lot of the time, it’s difficult to put our finger on the problem. Sometimes, all we know is that something is stopping us from living our best life. Therapy can help us identify the problem, and therapists can help us navigate the path forward.
Below are some of the top reasons why everyone should go to therapy, and how therapy could help you:
Talking Through Problems Aloud Builds a Metacognition
You probably already know that journaling is a productive form of therapy. Getting our thoughts out of our heads and onto paper can be as cathartic as crying or relieving tension through exercise. However, sometimes journaling can leave us even more confused if we don’t understand where our feelings are coming from or why we have the thoughts that we do.
Talking out loud about these things to a therapist in a safe room can help us process what’s going on with us. Talking about it helps us build a better understanding of our thought processes, and brings awareness to our destructive patterns that are detrimental to our mental health. By talking about it with your therapist, you’re building metacognition.
Metacognition is an awareness of your own thought processes while understanding the root causes and patterns behind them. Therapy sessions are one of the best ways to build metacognition and gain a true understanding.
Therapy Helps You Process Trauma
Often, when people think of the word ‘trauma’ they imagine catastrophic, terrible events, but trauma can also be defined as a disturbing or distressing event that overwhelms a person beyond their ability to cope, and that is relative; what’s traumatic for me may not be traumatic to you. When dealing with a traumatizing situation, it can be difficult to find the empathy and compassion you need from family and friends. As much as they love us, sometimes they just can’t relate to what we’re going through. Therapists are trained in the art of processing and resolving trauma and can help you cope.
Therapy Helps You Develop a Stronger Sense of Self
Therapy helps you find yourself and develop a stronger sense of self. People living with anxiety or depression often get caught in cycles of ruminating or worrying. They can get trapped in negative thinking patterns that reinforce feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and loneliness. Over time, they begin to associate themselves with their depression; they get so stuck in the disease that they lose sight of their true identity, identifying solely as someone who’s depressed. Therapists can offer you strategies to help you recognize yourself for who you really are outside of depression, as well as motivate you to get back into hobbies and routines that better define you as the person you are.
Therapy Reduces Anxiety and Teaches You How to Manage Stress
Therapy provides a safe space to let it all out. In your therapist’s office, you are free to cry, laugh, shout, say what you want to say, and release everything you’ve been hanging onto that’s causing you stress. People often report feelings of relief after therapy appointments. Additionally, your therapist can help you identify stressors in your life that you might be accustomed to and teach you how to avoid them, as well as show you better ways of coping with stress.
Reduced Stress Preserves Your Memory and Leads to Better Cognitive Function
According to Dr. Boyer of the Farr Institute, “Meditation or therapy may help in managing psychological disorders including anxiety and depression that are a major cause of brain impairment in most people. As a result, your mind may relax after mediating or therapy, enhancing cognitive functioning responsible for a good memory like focus, concentration, and learning. In addition, mediation or therapy may also rearrange the brain’s communication pathways and the interaction between brain cells, improving memory and reducing the risk of detriment.”
Mental Health is an Integral Part of Overall Wellness
Just as diet and exercise are imperative for good physical health, therapy or counselling contributes to optimal mental health. Physical, emotional and mental health are all connected; some mental health disorders present physical symptoms like sleep disturbance, body aches and decreased appetite. Feeling physically run down can in turn worsen mental health, and this continues in a vicious cycle. When your body is sick, you see your doctor, so doesn’t it make sense to take the same steps to keep your mind healthy?
Therapy Helps You Unlearn Bad Habits
Much of therapy is unlearning, not learning. If you’re wondering why everyone should go to therapy, it’s because most of us have destructive or unhealthy habits we need help unlearning. Most of us carry around some degree of unresolved past trauma that manifests itself through habits that work against our best interests. We push people away, put up walls that we think will protect us from getting hurt or numb ourselves with social media, alcohol or food to avoid our feelings. This only compresses the problem until, eventually, it blows up in our face. Through therapy, we can unlearn these habits and replace them with ones that promote healing, connectivity and mental strength.
Counsellors Encourage Us to Develop Empathy and Gain a New Perspective
Author and licensed marriage and family therapist Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill believes that “therapy helps to gain new perspectives about one’s self and the life one is living. It provides a safe place to consider what changes could be made, and how to make those changes to increase one’s happiness and success, in a world that can be challenging at times for all of us.” Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy built on the perspective that, in order to change how we feel, we must first change how we think. Exercises in CBT aim to help individuals identify thinking patterns that reinforce negative views about themselves and the world around them and then challenge those thoughts. The goal is to change how you feel by first changing your perspective.
The ability to have perspective allows you to be more empathetic with other people, which is a fantastic trait to have.
Therapy Helps You Improve Your Relationships
With individualized therapy, the main goal is to first better the relationship you have with yourself so that you can form better relationships with family, friends and partners. However, some situations call for group therapy. Couples counselling or family therapy are two other forms of therapy that focus on relationship building and bond strengthening.
Therapists can often help you learn how to communicate with your loved ones better, which helps you improve your relationships.
Regular Therapy Can Help Steady Your Mood
Consistent therapy can help you feel happier, as it’ll help steady your mood. The bottom line is that good mental, physical, and emotional health are all connected and each component contributes towards overall happiness and life satisfaction. “Science tells us that happier people are more successful, less stressed, and enjoy better relationships,” confirms Sharon. When you have a positive outlook, you are more productive, and by default more successful. Further, with an arsenal of healthy habits and coping strategies, you will be more resilient to the curveballs life throws at you.
While environmental factors certainly contribute greatly towards your outlook on life, there are also genetic factors that may put you at a greater risk of developing a mood disorder, and a DNA test from CircleDNA can reveal your genetic risk for certain mental health conditions.