Therapy helps people cope with anxiety, depression, and a host of situational problems, but therapy isn’t magic. The truth is that therapy helps increase mental health by creating change in a how a person lives life, and how that same person sees life.
Here are 7 ways that therapy helps mental health:
1) Therapy reinforces what is good in your life. A person who comes to therapy often can’t see anything except what is bad about his situation. Therapy makes sure to focus on the client’s strengths.
2) Therapy re-frames negative thought patterns. Often we see the things that happen to use through a distorted lens. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps put troubling thoughts and events in a more realistic frame, leading to a decrease in self-blame, depression, and anxiety. CBT is one of the most-used talk therapies for depression and anxiety, and can work relatively quickly.
3) Therapy teaches relaxation. Most people never check their posture or breathing, and are shocked to learn they hold a lot of tension in their bodies and breathe too shallowly. Therapy helps reverse this habit.
4) Therapy teaches how to ‘talk back’ to your inner critic. Do you have a little voice inside that is constantly running you down with thoughts like, “I’m too fat. I never do anything right. Why even try?” etc, and so forth? Therapy teaches you how to shut that voice up, or at least make it pipe down.
5) Therapy affirms reaching out over isolation. Depressed and anxious people tend to exaggerate the extent of their pathology and begin to withdraw from others and from group activities. Therapy gently encourages the reverse.
6) Therapy provides tools for dealing with future crises. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. Therapy helps you take the world less personally so you can develop a skill set for when things go wrong.
7) Therapy can reverse the aftermath of trauma. Just talking about trauma in therapy helps reduce the effects over time, but combining talk with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can bring relief even more quickly. A therapist trained in EMDR watches your eyes as you recall a traumatic event and uses a pulsing light, tapping, or tone to help your brain reprocess trauma at a neurological level. Dramatics results with EMDR have been verified in multiple studies.
The days when going into therapy meant years of talking about childhood with a total stranger and feeling stigmatized for doing it are long gone. Today’s psychotherapy provides practical, focused help to many, many people, quickly and affordably.