By Ilyssa Hershey, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
While most people have a basic understanding of what therapy is or why one might seek it out, there are still some people who really don’t know what the purpose of therapy is and why one might benefit from it. In addition, there continues to be a stigma attached to therapy that only "crazy" or "weak" people need it. If ideas and comments of that nature continue to surround the field of mental health, those that do need it will shy away from seeking out treatment for fear of being judged. The idea that only “crazy” people need therapy is far from the truth. Therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder. And the definition of a mental disorder is simply a psychological disorder of thought or action. While there is truth in the fact that people who have severe mental disorders require support in the form of therapy, the thought that therapy is only for these severe situations is just not the case. Many everyday people of all walks of life find that working with a therapist can be a tremendous asset to helping them manage personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles and stresses of daily life. Therapy has so many benefits. Here is a quick list, just to name a few. • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values • Developing skills for improving your relationships • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety • Managing anger, grief, depression and other emotional pressures • Improving communications and listening skills • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence Some people wonder if they really need therapy and others believe they can handle problems and stress on their own. While this is true, there are moments when you feel stuck or confused and your initial feelings of frustration, anxiety or sadness may be increasing or not going away. You may start to experience physical issues such as insomnia, stomachaches, or headaches. You may find yourself in yet another relationship that makes you unhappy and is eerily similar to many of your previous relationships. Another indication that you may need some support is when you feel low, sad or unfulfilled and you can’t seem to figure out why. While you have been able to work through challenging times in your life before, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. Medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, require the support of a medical practitioner, and sometimes medication. Likewise, conditions of an emotional nature that are causing sadness, anxiety, or stress require the support of a therapist. Why would you seek support to help with one and not the other? A therapist can provide you with more tools for your toolbox so that you are better able to handle certain feelings, thoughts, and situations. They ask pertinent questions to help you begin to see yourself more clearly and explore your current thoughts about certain issues. They look for patterns in your interactions and thoughts that may be negative or self-destructive. These patterns may be something you would not have seen or been aware of without working with an objective, nonjudgmental additional set of eyes and ears. Clarity and self-awareness can lead to healthier decisions and choices, which lead to a happier you. While some may believe you are weak if you reach out for the support of therapy, nothing could be farther from the truth. Entering therapy is a very courageous act. You are taking responsibility for yourself and your relationships. You are willing to talk about painful feelings without giving up or running in the opposite direction. You are inspired to make changes in yourself and in your life that can be very scary and difficult. Your strength and bravery help you to become more self-aware, in order for you to break the pattern of negative relationships, or to reduce your feelings of anxiety and depression. Sometimes one must walk through the storm in order to come through to the sun and warm breezes. Hard work, perseverance, and the desire to be better and feel better will lead you to a more happy, healthy, and peaceful you. When you are happy and feel good about yourself, you will begin to make choices that best serve you.
copyright 2013 Ilyssa Hershey, Psy.D.