There tends to be a lot of stigma surrounding therapy; one of them being the ever-increasing narrow viewpoint on how therapy can help a person and why someone would enter treatment in the first place.
The stigma surrounding mental health
Since mental health is fast-becoming a much talked about subject, particularly on social media – fortunately, the taboo surrounding therapy and mental health has significantly decreased over time. All this is positive.
However, it is evident that there still needs to be more self-awareness around the advantages of having a therapist, which involve:
- How therapy can offer help and support to people suffering from mental health conditions
- More support available for people on the severe spectrum of mental health
- The ability to learn new coping skills to help people suffering from mental health navigate their lives
Is going to a therapist a good idea?
Some people detest the idea of seeing a therapist as to them – getting help is synonymous with weakness. The benefits of therapy are endless and offer a supplement to a person’s quality of life.
Essentially, entering therapy doesn’t always denote that a person is suffering from severe mental health symptoms.
A change in perspectives
There are plenty of people who attend therapy to make sense of their lives- and understand the people around them better; for some, it’s thoroughly enjoying the benefits that talk therapy has to offer.
Individuals do not have to be on the verge of a mental breakdown, be going through a relationship crisis, suffering from depression or bordering on divorce to seek therapy.
Although therapy gets highly recommended to people going through all of the above — having a therapist is something that can help a person to:
- Work towards their life goals
- Become better communicators
- Become better equipped in dealing with relationship problems
- Enjoy a more profound quality of life
There is no wrong or right when it comes to entering therapy, and as the saying goes:
”different strokes for different folks”.
So long as a person possesses a willingness to commit to the therapeutic process and has a profound curiosity to learn more about pre-existing behavioural patterns, therapy offers a phenomenal platform that seeks to enhance an individual’s life experience.
Which type of therapy is most effective?
A wide range of therapeutic modalities is available and dependent on a person’s mental health condition and the symptoms they present.
The word therapy is vague when used in the broader sense. However, there are a host of therapies that treat a variety of mental health conditions.
For instance, psychotherapy known as psychological therapy or ‘talk therapy’ is useful to explore behavioural patterns by exploring one’s’ past.
Psychotherapy also helps to resolve any compulsions, beliefs, emotions and thoughts, improving a person’s relationships and social skills.
Types of psychotherapy
There are plenty of psychotherapeutic types, which involve:
- Body psychotherapy
- Art therapy
- Attachment-based psychotherapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Group Psychotherapy
- Individual psychotherapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Research suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used form of therapy, as it belongs to the second generation of behavioural treatments.
CBT operates on the concept that behavioural abnormalities stem from distorted and dysfunctional thought processes and patterns – when overlapping with learned behavioural patterns, this combination causes profound discomfort for the patient.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy challenges any distorted notions that a person may have – to modify any negative beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviours that may have led a person to self-destruct through addiction, depression, crime, and so forth.
Other effective therapies include:
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Systemic Therapy
What are the benefits of talking to a therapist?
The benefits of therapy and talking to a therapist are limitless. Therapy can help people understand themselves on a profound level. Speaking to a mental health professional is how people unlearn the coping strategies that no longer serve them.
The power of thought
Our thoughts shape our world – and having our experience (regardless of what our experience might be) validated, is just one of the many benefits of attending therapy.
Therapists are qualified to help people interpret the experiences that help shape their world- this involves challenging:
- Any negative thought patterns
- Pre-existing self-limiting beliefs
- Anxious thoughts and concerns
- Problems with relationships
- Negative life choices – such as addictive behaviours and disconnecting from loved ones and friends
Sigmund Freud once quoted that:
”Out of our vulnerabilities will come our strength”, and when it comes to mental health, this couldn’t be any truer.
Our brains are like sponges in the way they soak up information. Although, some of the information may no longer be accurate – or rather, may not be correct anymore. Below are some of the benefits of having a therapist:
#1. Therapy: Learning vs unlearning
The coping skills we used to survive trauma, a traumatic childhood, or an abusive relationship was drip-fed through the information our brains used to help us cope at the time.
Although, how a person learns to cope in the present moment may not apply to the situation they are currently in.
Therapy, therefore, aims to help a person unlearn the coping strategies that no longer serve. All this gets achieved through therapies such as talk therapy and CBT.
#2. Therapy increases our physical health and wellbeing
There is plenty of data to suggest that therapy increases our physical health and wellbeing.
Brooke Lewis, clinical counsellor and founder of the Mental Health Boot Camp found that patients’ experience decreased and an overall improvement in their physical symptoms – symptoms linked to stress.
Through therapy, one of Lewis’s patients reported a reduction in her anxiety and depression – she also experienced a decline in her physical symptoms such as stomach issues and frequent headaches. All this got achieved through the identification of:
- Painful emotions
- Learning new coping strategies, which in turn help to alleviate the nervous system
- The ability to recognize any physical symptoms in yourself or a loved one to execute an early intervention
#3. Therapy improves relationships
According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, three out of four couples who attend couples therapy reported significant improvements in their relationships.
Two-thirds of the people attending therapy also experienced an improvement in their overall life, including their physical health and how they performed at work.
Effective couples and family counselling allows people to:
- Improve communication barriers
- Interpret what another person might be saying vs making assumptions
- Uncover unresolved conflict that might be at the heart of old relationships problems
- Understand and respect others preferences whilst maintaining their own
#4. Therapy helps build confidence and self-esteem
Professionals, such as counsellors, are invaluable when it comes to helping people build their self-esteem.
When conducted in settings that are both safe and encouraging – the individual gets the opportunity to explore their thoughts and beliefs in a way that helps them to address any underlying anxiety, depression or any other mental health concern they may be experiencing.
Counselling and therapy allow individuals to interpret their thoughts, experiences and life choices that may have resulted in them hitting the self-destruct button – which usually involves:
- Taking up addictions such as alcohol or drug abuse
- Having difficulty communicating needs – particularly in relationships
- People-pleasing – people who are placatory tend to put others needs and wants ahead of their own. All this is a result of low self-esteem
- Avoidant behaviours – such as avoiding people and places
Therapy aims to address any concerns that people have and helps them work towards self-actualization.
#5. Therapy moves beyond the crest of surviving to thriving
Any trauma expert will tell you that most trauma victims tend to go into survival mode after a traumatic experience. All this is a helpful approach when in the throes of a traumatic event.
Problems occur when a person gets stuck in survival and forgets to enjoy the fullness that life has to offer – essentially, to thrive beyond all that has happened.
At times, people with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder have an unconscious tendency, to store unresolved trauma, something that gets stuck in the sympathetic nervous system and parts of the brain.
One of the therapists’ goals is to help release any stored trauma, which helps alleviate anxiety and depression.
Treatment in counselling aims to encourage people to move beyond basic survival to thriving – treatments such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy) has seen many people do just that.
Professionals understand that with the right treatment, it is possible to make better life choices that will ultimately lead people; in fact, anyone to more rewarding life experiences.
Contact the team at Tikvah Lake Recovery today to speak to a trained specialist who will be able to talk you through your treatment options.