Updated on 12/9/2021
For so long, I refused to consider the concept of therapy. I would experience many breakdowns and panic attacks. Afterwards my mom would gently offer the prospect of seeing a licensed therapist. She told me how much it helped her cope with life, and how much it could help me with the complicated way I was feeling.
I scoffed at the thought. I believed I was fine on my own, battling my demons with no help from a stranger. But when I finally did go, I kicked myself that I didn’t sooner.
That is what drove me to write this article. We can be so apprehensive when it comes to taking opportunities to better ourselves. Just because something is unfamiliar or uncomfortable doesn’t mean we need to fear it or dismiss the thought.
“Ambivalence is at the helm of motivation and when we are able to choose and accept the right therapeutic support over the status quo, we give ourselves a better chance at coping, managing life’s hardships proactively, and living healthfully.”Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW
I was apprehensive for a long time. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone without knowing what to expect. But because I put it off for so long, it took me that much longer to reap the incredible benefits of opening up. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. With this list of reasons to go to therapy, I want to nudge the doubtful people in the right direction to help themselves by seeing a therapist and getting professional help.
1. It’s Not For ‘Crazy’ People
You don’t need to go through something especially traumatic to benefit from a therapy session. You don’t need to be suffering from a mental illness to feel the positive side effects of talking to someone.
There are so many misconceptions about therapy. People are ashamed to say they go. They’ll claim they “aren’t crazy,” that it’s only to get them through a certain period of their life. But going to a therapy session is good for everyone.
None of us are perfect. There is always something we can open up about and share to feel more at peace in our lives.
2. It’s Easier to Talk to a Stranger than Someone You Know
While you may think talking to your best friend, mom or sister is enough; it’s actually not. These people know you. It takes a stranger to recognize an irregular and unhealthy habit in your life. Therapists know how to dig deeper and come to different conclusions than someone who is passively listening.
Your friends might sympathize while you cry to them about a breakup, but a licensed therapist will have you see it in a new light. A therapist allows you to wrap your head around things that most likely confuse your friends.
“Our closest allies often carry strong opinions about what we should do in life but that can overshadow what we want for ourselves internally. A well supported therapeutic space can foster the freedom needed to better understand personal needs and expectations.”
Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW
3. You Learn New Things About Yourself
My first time going to psychotherapy, I mentioned something about my brother passing away. After answering her questions about it, I blurted, “I don’t think I ever had the chance to properly mourn.”
Once I said it, its truth hit me like a tidal wave. I was away at college, away from my home and my family and friends, so I stayed composed and closed up around these new people who didn’t understand. I went to class every day and drank regularly. There was little emotion or talk of the subject.
She asked me where I thought I was in the mourning process now. For the first time since he passed, I was able to admit, “I have no idea.” Simply recognizing it and saying it set me in a new direction. You’ll be amazed at the things you will say out loud and learn about yourself.
4. It Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Going to psychotherapy is intimidating. Fear of the unknown holds most people back. Nothing seems more uncomfortable than sitting in a room with a stranger talking about problems you shove deep within yourself.
You wonder how a stranger can understand, relate and make you feel better. You wonder how talking can disperse any stress and anxiety.
Answer: It does. And being afraid shouldn’t hold you back from that opportunity. You have to remember this is their job. You’re not approaching a random patron on the street and telling them how you’re displacing anger toward your parents. Doing something scary and uncomfortable and then discovering how cathartic and amazing it really is makes the end results even better.
5. You Finally Feel Heard
I have intense phobias. I’m a 23- year-old who can barely walk around my house at night without feeling terrified beyond belief of things that don’t exist.
This problem sounds really stupid to a lot of people. They don’t take it seriously; they’ll laugh when I explain it. They don’t understand how paralyzing it is to live with.
Therapy allowed me to talk about it without feeling silly, like I had to laugh it off or apologize for bringing it up. I finally felt like someone listened and understood it was more than an irrational fear, that there was a much deeper reason to it and that it was curable.
You feel like someone finally hears you and doesn’t dismiss your problems. They see there’s something more to it, something worth talking about. Things I’ll say offhandedly will suddenly become more important than I realized.
6. You Become More Self-Aware
It is critical to be aware of yourself, your emotions, your problems that you’re refusing to confront, the meaning behind your actions, coping mechanisms or behavioral patterns, everything.
So many people don’t stop and question themselves enough. We’ll lash out and act horribly to people around us and worsen the relationship issue, but we never take a moment to stop and reflect on ourselves and realize we’re the ones with the problem.
Therapy forces you to do that. It helps you work through your behavioral patterns to become a better person and build healthy relationships. It allows you to come to conclusions easier, to feel more peace with who you are and the people around you, to understand every layer of yourself you’ve been overlooking.
7. You Feel Better Afterward
There have been so many times I’ve been waiting to go to therapy thinking, “I have nothing to talk about.” I would dread it because nothing particularly bad had happened to me recently.
But the second you sit on that couch and look into the therapist’s face, something comes up. Without a doubt, and I can promise you this, every single time you walk out of their door, it’ll feel like a weight was lifted. You will feel lighter, calmer, more grounded, and connected. I’ve gone in struggling to think of a topic to bring up, and then two minutes in I’ll be sobbing about something that happened in my childhood that I did not realize affected me.
It’s shocking how many connections therapists can make to things in your life. The longer you go, the more connections you can start to make on your own.
8. It’s Time When You Can Only Focus on Yourself
We lead fast-paced, hectic lives. We have to balance work, relationships, finances, and much more on top of our own well-being. Getting professional help and therapy allows you to take time out of your schedule to focus on yourself and improving bettering who you are for the better.
You can explore underlying mental health issues, your thoughts and feelings, what you want in life, what’s holding you back. You can discover new techniques to help you with recurring problems, to better understand the mental health issues and, move on from them.
9. You’re Most Likely Repressing More Than You Realize
If you are ignoring mental health issues and refusing to talk about them, it’ll negatively affect you in numerous ways: physically, mentally, and emotionally. It will also affect the people around you. You might be especially irritable toward everyone in your life because you’re avoiding an underlying problem.
It is easy to go through life ignoring the deeper things being stifled inside of you, but you need to get to the roots of your difficulties to eliminate them. Seeing a mental health professional and going to therapy allows you to wrap your mind around an issue and understand it so it no longer appears to be this big, intimidating monster you can’t control. And while you are working through your current problems, you are also preparing for your future ones.
10. Smart, Successful People Believe in Therapy
People don’t go to therapy because they’re weak. The opposite is true. Weak people hide from their problems; strong people confront them. Smart, successful people don’t fear being vulnerable and learning more about themselves. They recognize how beneficial that is in the long term.
Being reflective and expressing yourself regularly is as important as eating vegetables and getting a good night’s sleep. As Kerry Washington said, “My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?”
- Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding. Accessed November 30, 2021.
- Speaking of psychology: Why you should talk to strangers, with Gillian Sandstrom, Phd, and Jon Levy. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/talk-strangers. Accessed November 30, 2021.
- Team GTE. How to improve self-esteem. Therapy for Self Esteem, Therapist for Self Esteem Issues – How to Improve Self–Esteem. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/self-esteem/improve. Published May 9, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2021.