Therapy is becoming increasingly popular and better trusted in our society, but some still wonder: how is it beneficial? And, how exactly will it help me? The answer isn’t simple or clean-cut, as every individual’s experience with therapy differs—depending on factors like age, duration of sessions, and issue at hand—but that doesn’t mean we can’t delve into all of the amazing possibilities. Here are five benefits of therapy, seen by people just like you who gave it a shot:
1) It offers important information and support.
Lizbeth Meredith, author of Pieces of Me, says that therapy always gives her the information, support, and push she needs: “Therapy saved me. I first sought help from my school counselor in junior high when my mom and her husband moved away from Alaska and didn’t take me. The next time I sought counseling was when I was a young single mom of two girls in diapers, figuring out how to parent without a partner or a role model. And it was in therapy that I later learned to deal with the loss of my later kidnapped daughters, how to help my girls re-integrate to America two years after that, and how to navigate parenting adult daughters greatly impacted by complex trauma. To have a place where I get information, support, and a kick in the pants when needed has helped me navigate the many transitions and situations of life without being overly needy to my friends and family.”
2) It heals and empowers.
Working with a therapist can also heal and empower you, according to Sara Flores, who describes her transformation as “assault survivor to empowered diva.” She says that after being sexually assaulted at ages 5 and 15, she “hid behind a wall of perfectionism,” trying desperately to stay safe. “I was scared to truly be seen and heard. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder would pop up anytime I felt helpless, and I would frequently be thrown into fits of uncontrollable crying,” Flores explains. “I began therapy at age 23 because the PTSD was getting overwhelming. After 10 years of doing both Somatic Experiencing and EMDR therapies on and off again, I am in an amazing place. I owe my life to my therapists. Though I was once struck in fear, I now feel healed and empowered to live a bold and beautiful life. I rarely feel my past traumas being triggered now, and I am filled with the energy and courage to fulfill my dreams. Thanks to the support of my therapists, I now feel brave enough to share my message that we can all heal from our past traumas. With enough self-love, we can live empowered, joyful lives.”
3) It teaches you how to accept and manage difficult emotions.
Julie Williamson, a licensed professional counselor who started therapy herself because she was experiencing anxiety at a new job, says therapy can help you accept and manage not-so-fun emotions, too: “Therapy has helped me identify my emotions, accept them without second guessing or judging myself, and learn to cope with my symptoms as they occur. As a counselor myself, I check in with my therapist on a monthly basis (sometimes more if needed!), since my work with clients and their challenges can sometimes stir up difficult things from my own past for me. I would say I’ve grown in that I am better able to recognize when I’m starting to feel anxious, and my ability to be curious about why I’m feeling anxious has increased. My relationship to my anxiety has also changed. Instead of viewing it as something that needs to be fixed or eradicated, I now view anxiety as a normal part of the human experience that can be coped with in ways that will not detract from my life.”
4) It helps to improve relationships.
It can also help you to work through difficult issues with your loved ones and improve overall relationships, according to Carol Gee, author of Random Notes. “When it appeared my husband was not taking his chronic health issues seriously and didn’t realize how that made me feel, I suggested counseling,” she explains. “I made an appointment and gave him no choice but to attend with me. Couples counseling paired with a few one on one sessions with each of us, the counselor was able to make him understand how his two heart attacks and quadruple bypass scared me. He always said ‘don’t worry, nothing is going to happen to me,’ but at the end of our 8 sessions, I felt he finally heard me. As for him, he took comfort that the counselor heard him and didn’t take sides. He has had a couple health issues since, but that counseling period taught us how to deal with them as they developed.”
5) It enables you to become the best person you can be.
All in all, therapy accompanies you on life’s journey and enables you to be the very best person you can be. Melony Hill—author, digital marketing consultant, life transition coach, and public speaker —knows this to be true, as she suffers with multiple illnesses, but has learned in therapy how to manage and live happily despite them. “During childhood, I had experienced severe physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. My abuse led me to a wild lifestyle,” she explains. “It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that my mate realized my irrational behavior, mood swings, and hypersexuality weren’t normal. He threatened to leave me if I didn’t get into therapy. In 2009, I walked into a therapist’s office and my life started to change. I was finally diagnosed. I have severe PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. I spent the next 7.5 years in therapy 2-3 days a week. My therapist worked with me intensely, helping me break through some extreme barriers, change very toxic habits, and learn to manage my illnesses.”