Last year, people were surprised when I told them I went to therapy.
Many supported my decision, but a select few only had crude things to say. In fact, one person asked me why.
“Why are you going to therapy? You have a great fiance, cool friends, a loving family, and you are going to grad school. You have nothing to be sad about.”
My heart broke when this person told me this, and thankfully, I was brave enough to remove them from my life. Therapy saved my life. I was able to confront my demons, learn to deal with my emotions, and learn not to be ashamed about my depression.
Since I ended my therapy sessions late last year, I became an advocate for people going to see a therapist. My personal experiences with therapy and how much it helped me was the reason why I became an advocate. According to Barna Group, four in 10 adults in America have seen a counselor at some point in their lives. Still, almost one in four say they would NEVER see a counselor.
There are many reasons why people might not see a therapist. People in larger cities have more economic-friendly resources to find a therapist, or they find it silly to pay someone to listen to them talk.
But going to therapy is more than paying someone to listen to you talk. Oh, you get much much more. In fact, here are six things you get out of going to therapy:
Validation of Feelings
Talking to friends about your feelings can help, but sometimes, we are met with things like, “it is going to be okay, I know how you feel. You will get over it.” While our loved ones might think this is the best, it is actually damaging to your mental health. By going to a therapist, your feelings will be validated, and you will never hear that you will get over it. In fact, you will learn ways to cope with your emotions, which leads to the second thing you get out of therapy.
Tools for Difficult Situations
Even though I have stopped going to therapy, I still use the tools I learned in my day-to-day life. Whether it is learning how to handle negative critiques from your inner-self to learning to bring yourself down from an anxiety attack, the tools you learn come in handy. You aren’t just paying someone to listen to you; you are learning how to develop insight and coping skills that you will continue to use.
One time, I was telling a friend how I felt, but somehow the conversation turned to them. While I usually don’t mind, I was discussing this particular friend how I never wanted to get out of bed due to exhaustion. When I told this to my therapist about my fatigue, she began to explain to me about the relationship between depression and energy levels, and what I could do to help myself. Seeking professional help gives you no competition in dialogue since a therapist will not talk about their problems or make their issues more significant than yours.
One Hour About You
Adding on to the last point, going to therapy allows you to get an hour(-ish) to talk about yourself. Anything about yourself. Throughout last year, no week was the same. She and I talked about dealing with school stress, insecurities, not feeling guilty for feeling sad, my unhealthy food habits, my family, and work problems. Every week we talked about something different that was affecting my mental health. Going to therapy gives you an hour to talk about whatever YOU WANT, guilt-free.
Space to Feel
I am the type of person that keeps things bottled up, but going to therapy helped me learn to say things out loud. By saying your problems out loud, it enables you to get a different perspective on your issues. You are also allowed to cry, be angry, exhausted, and feel every other feeling at therapy. I cannot tell you how many times I cried to my therapist and left content with my situation, knowing that I was able to handle those emotions. Therapy gives you the space to feel what you need to think with no judgment. Cry, be angry, feel what you want without the need for hiding.
The person who started therapy last January and the person who left last November are not the same person. I came out stronger, mentally, and emotionally. I learned how to handle my insecurities, depression, and other unhealthy habits. I learned how to be happy and how to deal when my days are far from happiness. With the right therapist, you will start noticing yourself growing.