Therapy used to have the stigma that it was only for seriously “messed up” people. And though some of those feelings still exist, the stereotype is slowly being left behind. According to a 2004 survey from Psychology Today, more than 27 percent of American adults (approximately 59 million people) received mental health treatment in the two years before. What every therapist wants you to know is that it's OK to see a therapist (and not just because their job depends on it), as it's highly encouraged to treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD and specific phobias before they take over your life. It's never too early and never too late. Here are five ways everyone can benefit from seeing a therapist:
1. You'll Have a Distraction-Free Space to Organize Your Thoughts
One of the primary benefits of seeing a therapist is that therapy is a great place to organize your thoughts. Generally speaking, most people have one or two symptoms of neurosis, and they just need a sounding board. These can be anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, negative thinking, mental confusion or low sense of self-worth. These shouldn’t be confused with psychotic disorders, where one has impaired thoughts, perception or judgment. People simply want feedback when they're going through stressful times in their lives.
2. Talking With Your Therapist Helps You Deal With the Past
The second benefit is to reduce the mind-chatter in your brain—the voices in your head affecting your self-esteem. These voices are telling you that you aren’t good enough and that you're a failure. Mind chatter is made up of voices from your past: your childhood, former relationships, bosses and teachers. We are shaped by our past and certain experiences, whether good or bad. But at the end of the day, the past is the past. Therapists can help you navigate troubled times you once had and reinforce the notion that it's ultimately your choice to create your future. Therapists can help get rid of these negative thoughts and put things in perspective, helping you think more positively. It’s important to have a positive mindset to be able to enjoy life more freely without worrying.
Read More: 5 Myths About Mental Illness
3. Therapy Provides a Consistent Reality Check
Seeing a therapist is a good reality check of what's normal and what's socially acceptable. Most people are so shame-based that they don't even bother examining what causes their anger or anxiety. It’s discovered that most of the things that bother them are day-to-day situations others are bothered by, too. It doesn’t hurt to hear a third-party perspective about a situation or a life decision you need to make but are going back and forth with an answer. Letting it out and discussing what’s on your mind with a therapist goes a long way.
Read More: 10 Ways to Learn to Love Yourself More
4. Your Therapist Is an Objective and Knowledgeable Third Party
Another benefit of going to a therapist is information. Whether it's on parenting, dating, socializing or just being an adult, it’s good to seek information. It never hurts to ask. Naturally as humans, we're constantly in need of companionship, validation and social interaction. But sometimes, life can be hard to navigate, and we don’t always have the answers on how and when to communicate effectively. Gaining insight and information on how to handle certain situations is key to growing and healing.
5. Better Mental Health Means Better Overall Health
Lastly, seeing a therapist is good for your mental health. And that's good for your general wellbeing. There's anxiety that comes from the anticipation rather than the participation itself. People can list 100 reasons not to go, but you just need one reason to go. It balances the scales. People are faced with the stigma that something is wrong with you or you’re crazy. They shouldn’t feel that is the case. In reality, people that go are typically healthier.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever gone to a therapist? What did you notice were the benefits of talking to him or her? What advice would you give to someone who's never been or considering it? If you've never been but are thinking about it, what's stopping you? Do you think you could benefit from therapy? Even just one session? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!