5 Benefits of Seeing a Therapist

Friday, 16th March 2018

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I’ve got this far, and I seem to be getting on just fine, thank you very much. What can a random stranger possibly offer me that I don’t already know? Besides, I can’t afford it, it’s too expensive… This had been my inner dialogue around therapy until recently. All whilst I proceeded to spend my free time eating out, forking out lots of money on multiple yoga classes — and the accompanying wardrobe of leggings — and then booking hefty flight tickets to the other side of the world as and when I pleased. This was until recently when a series of events convinced me to finally take the plunge.

I came to realise that therapy is one of the most powerful acts of self-care we can offer ourselves. Those weekend indulgences, lengthy travels and yoga classes are too — but therapy still felt extravagant for some reason.

But what’s a more worthy investment than one that acknowledges the importance of looking after our emotional and mental wellbeing?

The benefits of therapy

1. Having a solid support system is really important

Endless studies demonstrate the importance of having a solid social support network. Day to day most of us find this support via our family and friends… But occasionally we discover that our loved ones aren’t enough to pull us through some of our struggles. Maybe they don’t have enough time on their hands, or they simply don’t have the experience we need. Other times we might feel like we don’t want to burden them, or we want to speak about something we feel too embarrassed to talk about with a friend or partner. Therapy is a great way of strengthening this support network.

Choosing therapy comes with the realisation that we all need a helping hand from time to time. This can be difficult to admit at first, but it was an important turning corner for me. It’s not about admitting defeat. Spilling your guts out to a complete stranger is one of the most heroic things you can do. It’s about acknowledging that we’re human, and we can all do with a bit of help when it comes to navigating the amazing but complex workings of our emotional world.

2. You get to explore you

We naturally build stories as we navigate interactions in our daily lives. Therapy can make you aware of these stories — or ‘coping mechanisms’ — and pull them into question. People-pleasing is one example of a coping mechanism where we’ve learnt to accommodate other people more than ourselves, basing our value on what others think of us. This can spiral and lead us to lose sight of our own needs, and sacrifice our own sense of ‘self’ in the process. Sharing thoughts or patterns of behaviour that don’t feel constructive with someone outside of our immediate circle allows us the opportunity to drop our ‘story’ and explore what’s really underneath.

3. Stuff comes up you never considered

All kinds of things can come up in therapy, and it’s not always the things you’d expect… Memories that five minutes ago you didn’t realise you still retained suddenly come out of the woodwork, and you realise that maybe they had more of an impact than you first thought.

Sometimes we don’t know what’s troubling us, and a therapist can help us unpick the pieces and explore thoughts and feelings we’ve buried away. Just talking these things out loud can bring a huge sense of relief.

4. You become a nicer person

OK, so this might be a bit of a stretch… But exploring our own vulnerabilities forces us to face the fact that we can’t act out the role of indestructible superhero all the time. And this realisation softens us. It also makes us aware that other people might be struggling too. That’s the beauty of self-awareness:; it expands outwards and touches the people around us too.

5. It helps pull the wool from your eyes

It’s human nature to resist change and ignore making choices which feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a dead-end relationship you’re soldiering on with in the hope that things will get better, or an unfulfilling job that pays the bills but not much else. By stifling change, normally all we’re doing is putting off the inevitable, and making things harder for ourselves in the long-run. Therapy can help us make positive changes in our life — even those changes which feel hard at first. Talking to a friend about a subject close to home can make us feel defensive, whereas a therapist provides an outsider’s stand-point, and a fresh perspective that’s often easier to digest. Head here to learn more about the ins and outs of how therapy works.

With nothing to lose (and potentially everything to gain), I genuinely believe everyone can benefit from giving therapy a shot. Even if it’s just once. Instead of thinking about all the reasons it’s not right for us, maybe it’s about exploring our resistance to it instead. In my experience, the answer lies in moving towards the things we feel resistance to instead of pushing them away.

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