What are the top three benefits of having therapy?
If you’re wondering whether to see a therapist or not, here are my top three benefits of having therapy.
- Therapy can help you understand more clearly what you are going through. It can give you more clarity, which makes you feel calmer
- Therapy can reduce feelings of shame that you are not coping well enough. It can help you to feel less alone
- Good Therapy teaches you how to deal with your experience in new more useful and creative ways, which builds your independence, autonomy and ‘confidence’
I am speaking mainly from my perspective as a therapist. Ask one of the thousands of people who I’ve seen, they may say something different. I have had therapy before around 15 years ago after I was badly assaulted and sadly maimed in the process. After receiving urgent medical care and a brief hospital stay, it took some time to adjust. I didn’t feel as safe any more and I was dwelling on the traumatic event, which was making me worse. The trouble was that I couldn’t stop it.
Thankfully, help was available. My employer arranged access to a therapist who helped me process what had happened. I was able to focus on what I had done to protect myself, which allowed me to feel less helpless and inadequate about what had happened to me. I was and remain truly grateful for the chance to see a therapist quickly and to move-on from the mental and physical scars with which I was left.
Can therapy work for you?
I reckon a lot of people think about this question. In truth, its difficult to know for sure. Like many things in life, you need to want to do it. If you don’t or you feel pressured into doing it by someone else, then it’s likely it won’t help at this time.
To start therapy is a new and different way of dealing with your experiences. It makes sense to try it out if you are stuck. Being stuck is merely a sign that you haven’t yet figured out what is keeping you stuck or that you don’t know how to break the pattern. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then hoping it will get better with time is likely to lead to deterioration rather than improvement.
Understanding gives you clarity, which makes you feel calmer
My therapy did help me understand that I was fixating on the helplessness of being attacked. By processing it more fully, I was able to spot that the actions I had taken were not entirely helpless. I came to realise that my perspective had narrowed, and I was only understanding a small part of the picture. Noticing other things about what happened, did change my experience for the better.
Feelings of Shame and loneliness can reduce
Many people I’ve helped have described feeling reassured that they aren’t the only one affected by their problem. Knowing that it’s called something, that books have been written about it and that your therapist has helped other people with similar difficulties can fill you with hope. Knowing that you have a common humanity helps a great deal. Its not everything. Many people still suffer with feelings of shame despite knowing they are not alone. A skilled therapist will help you understand and handle feelings of shame differently, with more compassion. That can take time and practice, but ultimately, getting better at handling shame is an important development for many people who start therapy.
You learn techniques and processes that increase your autonomy, independence and confidence
In my view, good therapy is precise. What I mean is that you don’t end up talking about your whole life and childhood. And, that you don’t get taught a lot of unnecessary or ineffective strategies for ‘feeling better’. Good therapy addresses the processes that are you are struggling with in an accurate manner. For example, my therapist spotted that I was fixated on one narrative about what had happened. She guided me through a method for expanding that narrative, which has a positive impact. I didn’t need relaxation techniques. Many people do. Its just that I already knew how to do that.
Good therapy transforms your felt fragility and vulnerability into something bigger and more powerful. You expand your self-efficacy by doing what you are taught for yourself. If therapy doesn’t show you the what or the how, you don’t learn. And, this makes you feel more helpless. Autonomy, independence and confidence grow when you learn what to do and then practice it your own time.
How to work out if you’re ready
How I’ve described therapy may make you think differently about how it can help. But going there is like crossing the river. Whilst going to the other side might look appealing, staying where you are needs to feel uncomfortable. People are much more motivated to change when staying the same and doing nothing different seems unwise or feels you with dread.
If you’re contemplating therapy, but not sure if you’re ready, take a longer look at your own side of the river. What do you like about it? What do you wish was different? How uncomfortable is it? And what will it be like if you stay where you are?
You can get in touch with us to arrange an initial consultation by calling tel. 0121 523 1108.
Or, if you’re just browsing, let us know what you think in the comments below. What have you found helpful about therapy?
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