Thinking about Starting Therapy?
In our lifetime we will all experience highs and lows, fluctuations in emotions and some challenging situations. It can often be hard to know how to navigate these experiences on your own. Oftentimes you may ask yourself, should I go to therapy? When making the decision to start attending psychotherapy you often can come up with reasons not to go, like life may be too busy, not knowing what you would like to talk about, or even you may simply be feeling scared about the prospect of opening up to somebody you don’t know. Sometimes you may feel that your problems do not match up to the experiences of others and it can be easy to convince yourself not to start the process. The benefits of therapy are often heard from external sources such as friends, family, and the media, but it can be difficult sometimes to know if it is right or if it will work for you. It is normal to have questions about starting the therapy process. It is important to know that you will be in a safe space and to trust your therapist enough to be able to open up and express yourself freely.
How Do I Know if I could Benefit from Therapy?
One of the main questions asked before starting the therapy journey is how do I know if I need counselling or psychotherapy? The main difference between the two is that counselling is usually a shorter-term process and can work on getting through a particularly difficult experience. Psychotherapy is sometimes described as working more deeply in the longer term and can involve a process that can target and change behavioural patterns that have developed over time. This can sound scary at first because we don’t usually like having to change things about who we are. Sometimes these behaviours that we have built up do not actually benefit us as well as they once did. It can become difficult to overcome the resistance to change but this internal conflict can be a good indicator of when you should seek a therapist. In Mind and Body Works our therapists are trained as Humanistic and Integrative psychotherapists, meaning the approach taken focuses on the client from a holistic perspective. All aspects of the self are important from a mind, body and soul perspective. The client and therapist work together towards healing the internal and external struggles that they are experiencing.
7 Reasons Why You Should Go To Therapy
If you feel that you are at a point in your life where your behaviours or circumstances are no longer benefiting you it can be a good time to start to work towards a change in therapy.
Below are seven reasons why you should go to therapy.
1. To Understand Yourself Better
When starting therapy you may come in with questions about yourself that you would like to understand better. It is in the therapeutic space that you can find answers. It is through expressing your feelings and analysing your thoughts, behaviours and actions objectively that you can find who you are in your life. There can be many external factors that affect how you perceive yourself. In order to find your place in the world you often can lose your sense of self to try to fit into a wider community. This can lead to feelings of confusion and distress if you do not match up to the expectations you have set for yourself. It is usually in these moments of feeling lost that you may think about starting therapy. In a therapy session your therapist will work with you to bring yourself to the forefront so you can understand what your true needs are and how best to meet them for yourself.
2. Change Negative Behavioural Patterns
Oftentimes people go through life and seem to keep repeating patterns of behaviour that are not helpful to them. For example, always choosing the wrong romantic partner, never being in line for a promotion, or never maintaining friendships for long.
You can look at these patterns and assume it is to do with the external world. However, there may be something unconscious within the self that is allowing these behaviour to happen repeatedly. In therapy you can work with your therapist to establish how these repetitive behaviours were built and work on ways to try to break the cycle.
This can require a lot of self-reflection, understanding human nature and behaviour better, and acceptance of some truths about yourself. Once you can see patterns changing it can help establish healthy boundaries, break old patterns, and have more positive experiences of your self.
3. Improve your Relationships
While there are specific counselling and therapy options for couples and relationships, in your own individual personal therapy you can learn how to strengthen your bond with the people in your life. For example, sometimes you may become too accommodating for others, or even lash out when you feel threatened by a comment somebody makes. These are defence mechanisms that can be created out of a fear of rejection.
In therapy you can learn how to manage and regulate your emotions when interacting with others. You can take an outside perspective on your behaviour and try to understand someone else’s view. This does not mean that you hold back on expressing your true feelings, but rather try to express them in a way that will be beneficial to your situation.
A good place to start with this is between you and your therapist. There may be times when you may not agree with what your therapist says to you but this could also become a moment of self-reflection to validate and understand how you feel in those moments of anxiety.
4. Learn How to Understand and Express Emotions Safely
Depending on your background and how you grew up it may not have been the case that you were allowed to express your emotions in a healthy way. By constantly repressing your emotions it can mean that when they show themselves you may not always know how to respond to them. This experience can become overwhelming. In times of crisis these unhealthy emotional responses can cause more psychological harm to you than you might realise. As these emotions become repressed over time they can begin to speak from the body. Without realising these emotions can reappear in the form of physical symptoms, i.e nervous cough, body pains, illness. This can be your body’s way of telling you there is something wrong.
The work that you do in therapy with your emotions allows a space for you to freely speak, if something comes up that causes you distress you are in a space where you can be guided through your anxious position. Your therapist will never force you to reveal something that you are not ready to talk about. If something is revealed accidentally your therapist will work with you around your reaction to understand how to handle your emotions in the moment.
5. As a Period of Self-Reflection
When starting therapy, you may want to use the process to reflect on your past experiences over your lifespan to better understand yourself. This reflection on early life experiences can help you better understand how your thoughts, behaviours and reactions have been created throughout your life. As you grow through your different life stages, you may find that these old patterns do not serve a purpose any longer. If you do not know how to change these patterns on your own, this may signal a time when to seek therapy.
Self-reflection takes acceptance of both positive and negative life experiences. You may naturally expect to want only positive things to happen in your life. However, resilience can be built from working through the negative experiences and can help strengthen you in ways that you do not acknowledge until you really focus on them.
6. To Help Navigate Difficult Life Transitions
In times of major change in your life you can feel confusion about how to navigate some life choices. There may be elements so far out of your control that you feel pushed outside of your comfort zone. This can be overwhelming to negotiate in your day-to-day life which can bring on extreme feelings of anxiety towards what the future might look like. These feelings of uncertainty can cause rash, impulsive behaviours to find a sense of security again. These responses however may also bring their own issues with them.
In these transitional periods it can be beneficial to attend counselling or psychotherapy to understand how to navigate your emotions. If you are actively in a situation, it can be more difficult to understand your reaction than if you were to look back on the situation Retrospectively, it is ok to say you do not have the answers and this might be a time when you need to speak to a therapist and try to find your own answers.
7. Allow a Moment of Kindness for Yourself
Self-care has become popularised in the media in recent years. We all live busy, fast paced lives and there is an expectation that we treat ourselves as a reward. However this can extend beyond just the physical acts of self-care you can do for yourself. The self-care that you can do for your mental health can help build resilience for bigger life challenges.
In therapy this can look like challenging your own expectations of yourself. Sometimes you can set your standards too high to try to compete with everyone else so the focus can be brought back to your own strengths. It can be human nature to not want to talk about your own accomplishments in order not to seem arrogant. Self-confidence can be used as a tool in therapy to help you realise your potential and bring a sense of subjectivity to your life.
Starting Your Journey
It can be difficult to start a journey of change especially if you are making this journey on your own. Your therapist will help you understand what is required from you in your sessions and allow you to explore all parts of yourself in order to really understand who you are. This insight may not happen in the first session and may take some time. You may need to remain patient to see the full change within yourself. This does not just apply to what comes up in the session, but also to how you apply it in your life.
Starting your therapy journey can begin from when you first ask yourself should I talk to a therapist? This question can be the motivation to begin reaching out to find somebody suitable to work with or it might just be a passing thought that you come back to when you are ready to have the question answered. The journey can only begin once you are truly ready to start the work and once it starts you may surprise yourself with how far you can go.