Talk therapy is a safe space for open and honest dialogue between you and your therapist. While the overall goal is to identify and talk about issues causing your distress, therapy goes a bit deeper than that.
For a long time now, therapy has been a consistent guiding light for me. Therapy helped me transition from a life that felt overwhelming and unbearable to one that I enjoy living and thrive in – one where I know that I can overcome my anxiety even on my hardest days.
In working with your therapist to identify stressors in your life and understand their impact, you will also learn strategies and skills to manage your symptoms and move forward. If you’re on the fence about it or aren’t sure exactly why to go or what to say in therapy, I highly recommend giving it a try – or a few.
No matter what, we all could use an unbiased, non-judgmental, and knowledgeable person to talk to at times. So, if you ever feel lost on where to turn to, set up an appointment with a therapist. In doing this, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and the following five benefits of therapy will give you a clearer idea of what I mean.
Therapy helps with anxiety
Therapy is a highly valuable tool that helps treat patients with a wide range of issues and mental health conditions like depression, trauma, and OCD. And if I have not mentioned it straightforwardly enough yet, therapy is also a tool for dealing with the day-to-day challenges we all face as humans – something that anyone can benefit from.
That said, I want to touch on the most common mental health condition out there: anxiety. People who struggle with anxiety do not just experience moderate or high stress in understandable circumstances. Instead, people with anxiety feel unstable, irritable, or uneasy most of the time and for reasons they cannot always explain. This continuous state of fear can cause difficulty managing your emotions as anxiety begins to dictate your behaviors.
The first way therapy helps people manage their anxiety is by identifying the factors and underlying causes contributing to it. From there, they come to understand their emotions better and reach a place of acceptance before developing techniques to ease anxiety and effectively deal with it.
Therapy can improve your relationships
By this, I do not mean that therapy is a great resource for dealing with social anxiety or recovering from a tough breakup, although it is. But while some therapists specialize in family, relationship, and marriage counselling, any form of therapy can improve your relationships in general.
As you likely already know but may not always apply, better communication is key to better relationships. For this reason, therapists focus on opening the lines of communication between two or more people.
However, even if it is just you attending therapy, your therapist can help you see other perspectives and find balance in the way you communicate with people you care for. For instance, you might have a hard time opening up and being assertive to get what you need from someone; or, it could be the other way around, and you don’t realize the impact your assertiveness has on someone else’s feelings.
While therapists help people cultivate more positive and long-lasting relationships, they can also help you learn how to manage relationships with people you don’t want to keep around. Even accepting that it is okay to let go of relationships that aren’t serving you is a pretty big first step that you can accomplish in therapy.
By learning more skills to gain perspective and communicate, therapy can help you navigate all your current relationships to find greater fulfillment.
Therapy can make you happier
I realize that this a broad statement because, let’s face it, happiness is an ambiguous word. Not only can happiness emotions range from contentment to immense joy, but the things that make us happy vary for all of us, too.
No matter how you slice it, I think we can all agree that greater levels of self- acceptance and self-compassion make us happier. When you accept who you are, you will be more prone to take care of yourself and engage in healthy behaviors rather than succumb to negative self-talk. And the things you discuss with your therapist will help you find more self- awareness and understanding, which is always the first step before self-acceptance.
In other words, therapy is a great first step to a happier life. It is an opportunity to release your past, talk about your present, and foster more compassion for yourself moving forward.
Therapy can make you more productive
Have you ever noticed how you get more tasks accomplished or focus better when you are in a good mood?
We’ve established that therapy can make you feel happier, and the same chemicals, like serotonin, that your brain receives when you’re happy also signal you to learn more, work harder, and apply yourself.
My intention is not to say that you have to work harder to be happy or that what you are doing now is not good enough. Although, I won’t deny the fact that higher productivity is great for many reasons.
The more you strive for goals and succeed, the more accomplished, capable, and confident you will feel. Not to mention productivity gives your life a sense of direction. All of this can add up to a greater level of happiness, so if you think about it, happiness and productivity make up a positive and perpetual cycle.
Both happiness and productivity combined can help you advance in life, whether professionally or personally, and therapy is a way to identify your mental roadblocks so you can find effective solutions to overcome them. As you can see, therapy is not about directly helping people develop better wellbeing, but a tool that enables you to improve any areas of your life that contribute to your wellbeing.
Therapy teaches healthy, lifelong coping skills
Last but certainly not least are the healthy coping skills you acquire from therapy. Coping is necessary to respond to all life’s challenges and problems. Sometimes all coping will feel like it is helping you to do is persevere. But if you continue to cope with consistency and efficacy using the tools you learn in therapy, you will ultimately move through and move on.
When your healthy coping mechanisms become habitual and take precedence over your unhealthy ones, you will feel more in control over your life. Keep in mind that nurturing skills and habits and achieving progress takes time, and so does therapy. It is normal if it takes a while to reap any of these benefits of therapy, which is one more reason not to wait any longer to try it.
Writing by Paul Marlow
“Paul Marlow is a mental health advocate who writes mental health help content to inspire others to find daily actions to get better. You can see more at his site for Never Alone”