Society seems to be biased about mental health and those that go to therapy. Even Tony Soprano saw a therapist during most of the popular show The Sopranos, but he definitely kept that fact from family and friends for fear of being judged or ridiculed. There seems to be quite a few generalizations about people who go to therapy. Some might think we are crazy, or that we all need medication. We take a look at all the positive things about therapy and how it really can change our lives for the better. Here are 15 things people who go to therapy never told you. The basis of this list is to break the societal stigma that somehow there is something wrong with people who go to therapy.
1. We are less stressed.
Sometimes it is hard to keep everything that might be going wrong in our lives bottled up. The more it stays inside our head and heart, the harder it is to relax. After talking to a therapist, life seems less heavy and after sharing something important with another person while receiving a few useful tips and pointers, we are able to improve the way we currently choose to live our lives. It is definitely helpful when talking to someone regularly about any issues in our lives.
2. We are learning new tools to combat future issues.
Boundaries. Communication Tools. Staying out of codependent patterns. Most of these points might sound like “therapy talk”, but setting boundaries with others that are hurting our emotional health are necessary to be able to protect ourselves from further harm. Most of these ideas and tools are not widely taught outside of therapy or recovery circles, but they are common conversations when talking to a therapist.
3. We are not doing it alone.
Isolation can be detrimental. If we go into our head and spend days there ruminating about negative thoughts, feelings or problems it usually makes the problem feel bigger. Many times isolation just makes the already bad situation worse. The fact that seeing a therapist means that we are not going through life alone, it definitely helps. Using a professional to help with our mental health issues, we have made that first vulnerable step to go to therapy and share parts of our lives with someone else. There is healing even in taking that first step to seek out and set up an appointment with our therapist.
4. We are actually utilising someone unbiased in our lives.
Sometimes taking our problems and issues to a best friend or family member can damage the relationship. The other negative of sharing our issues with others that know us pretty well could end up hurting more than helping our situation. The friend or family member might tell us what we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. It is helpful to have someone that has no previous bias about who we are or how we have lived our lives. The more our therapist gets to know us, they can offer sound advice and sometimes point out when we might be playing the victim or not fully owning up to our own responsibility in any given situation. It is good to have someone that will help us discern the truth in our situation and not our own perceived reality.
5. We are getting out of denial.
Denial is a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad or painful is true or real. In some situations, it is a defence mechanism to shield us from severe abuse or harm. It works for a while, but it has no long term benefit in our lives and it eventually will surface sooner or later. Seeing a therapist helps us sift through our past hurts and negative events that might be affecting our current lives. The more time spent talking to a therapist, the easier it is to realise when and where we might have been using denial to avoid certain feelings. The most important thing is that once we are aware of our own denial, we can finally begin to change.
6. We are changing the way we do things, for the better.
Going to therapy helps improve communication with others, helps with how we choose to react in certain situations and figuring out what we truly are responsible for in our own lives. The longer we are in therapy, the more we figure out healthy ways to react to negative or complicated situations. A licensed professional can give us sound and important suggestions on how we can improve the way we choose to live our lives.
7. We are taking care of our mental health.
When we a have a cold, we go to the doctor. When we need help with our fitness goals, we hire a personal trainer. When we need help with our finances, we go to a financial advisor. Why would it be any different when we need help sorting out our thoughts or problems in our lives? Seeing a therapist helps us take care of our mental health so that we can live our lives in a more positive and balanced way.
8. We are not afraid to be authentic.
We get out of therapy what we put into it. Being authentic and truthful as best as we can with our therapist only benefits how we can improve our current situation. A therapist is a safe person to share past and current experiences with, and the more we trust our therapist, the more authentic and real we become with family and friends. The truth is that no one is perfect, it is not possible to be perfect. The more forthcoming we can be with others about our own issues or struggles, the more trustworthy we become.
9. We are letting go of our past hurts.
Most people believe the only thing talked about in therapy sessions is our past. The past is important because many of our belief systems were formed while growing up. When talking to a therapist, the past is only the main topic for a certain amount of time. Once it is realised that some of our bad habits are directly related to our negative past experiences, that awareness alone allows for better reactions and choices to be made with future issues or struggles.
10. We know that it’s not a shame to go to therapy.
After talking to a therapist for a while and getting some answers and healing in certain areas of our lives, we feel good about our decision and start talking to family and friends about the successes we have had from going to therapy. This doesn’t mean we are talking about the person we share that information with during our sessions. We also don’t expect the person we tell to feel sorry for us because we are in therapy. We are taking care of our mental health and all we want from friends and family that we share the fact that we go to therapy with, is love and support.
11. We go for as long as we need to.
Going to therapy does not mean we go forever. Everyone is different and many issues can be worked through in a matter of months, or we occasionally can check in every 6 months after working through the majority of what we came to work on to begin with. We do form a bond with our therapist so it is hard to just stop going altogether because we respect and form a safe and trusting relationship with our therapist.
12. We are still in control of our own thoughts and decisions.
When we go see a therapist, we are not told what to do. We are actually asked many questions in return and most of the time we are nudged in the direction we need to go. Many answers we are looking for, we find out after sharing important bits of information and getting back suggestions that help us figure out the answers. We are not controlled by our therapists, they are just there to help us reach the goals we wanted to reach when we first started.
13. We are more accepting of ourselves and others.
Once we realise a few of our faults and habits that have currently held us back, we realise that we accept the good and bad of who we are and we can enjoy our lives and others around us even more. Negative self talk and low self worth can be detrimental to our happiness. The sooner we fully accept the good and the bad within ourselves and others instead of holding others to certain expectations, the sooner we can move forward and live our lives without anything holding us back.
14. We are open to trying new things.
We learn new things in therapy. We learn to journal our thoughts, to ask ourselves hard questions so we can find out the very important answers. We sometimes do ‘homework’ assignments and we are sometimes asked to do things a little differently and report back on how our new attitude or reaction worked out for us. If we struggle with anger or resentment toward certain people, we are asked to consider exploring the possibility of forgiveness. We agree to try new things even if we may not want to at first, we know in the long run it will help us learn how to have positive and healthy reactions instead of our old negative patterns.
15. We are not weak.
Some may view us as weak because we seek out professional help for certain issues or situations we can’t quite tackle on our own. We realise that admitting we need someone else to guide us in the right direction is the best decision for us and going to therapy was not an easy decision. We decide that society’s view of “sucking it up” and “figuring it out on our own” is not the best advice. We realise in the end, we are choosing to make positive changes in our lives instead of staying in our previous mode of insanity which was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. We are strong for deciding to change our lives for the better, and we finally realise we no longer care what others think about us anymore because we know that going to therapy is the best thing to do for our own mental health.
Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via photos.jdhancock.com