Many people find it hard to talk to someone about what’s troubling them. That’s because talking to a stranger can feel like a frightening prospect. Talking to a stranger about your problems can seem like a dangerous thing to do. But if you are having trouble dealing with difficult emotions or thoughts, then talking to a therapist can help you get the support you need.
1. Therapy can help you learn life-long coping skills
Coping skills are anything that helps you through difficult times, whether it’s not getting the promotion you deserve, anxiety about driving, or the death of a loved one. Therapists are educated and trained to help foster the natural coping skills everyone has. Coping skills will look a little different from person to person because everyone is unique. There is no “one size fits all” coping skill. Regardless of the modality of therapy, the idea is to bolster your personal strengths using evidence-based practices the therapist teaches you. Psychologist Rob Winkler asserts that “better coping leads to better responses and better responses lead to better experiences, which create more opportunity and prosperity in all aspects of our lives.” Learning coping skills improves your life exponentially in the long-run.
2. Therapy can change how you interact with people in your life – in a good way
Sometimes we’re not aware of just how many ways we’re negatively impacting our relationships. We might snap and call our partner names when we’re mad and then forget about it after the fight, not realizing the effect that it has on our partner. On the other side of things, maybe we’re so used to keeping our feelings bottled inside that we have a hard time being assertive with the people we love. A therapist can help balance the way we communicate with our loved ones to improve our relationships.
It can also be useful to hear another person’s input on the important relationships in your life. Are you getting what you want out of your partner – do they make you feel fulfilled? Are your expectations reasonable, or do you think that your partner should be your everything? Or maybe you’re doing everything “right” but there are still ways you could make your connection stronger. A therapist, especially a therapist specialized in family and relationship counseling, can give you the tools and support you need to make changes that will positively impact your relationships. Increasing the positivity of your relationships builds to a more fruitful long-term future – because when it comes down to it, life is about having fulfilling relationships with the people you love and being able to successfully navigate relationships with people you don’t.
3. Therapy can make you feel happier
True happiness is an elusive thing, and many times people chase the external. So how does therapy help you feel happier on a deeper level? Talking over your past, present, and future with a therapist can lead to greater self-understanding. While self-understanding doesn’t always imply self-acceptance, it is the first step towards truly embracing who you are at the core. A related concept is self-compassion. Greater self-compassion helps you handle the bumps in the road that inevitably happen in life without getting stuck in a mire of negativity. Therapists often emphasize self-acceptance, self-compassion, and talk us through techniques for increasing these. Learning self-compassion in therapy has tangible benefits: High self-compassion has been found to lead to more health-promoting behaviors (Sirois, Hirsch, & Kitner, 2015), nurture well-being (Neely, Schallert, Mohammed, Roberts, & Chen, 2009), increase empathy and altruism (Neff & Pommier, 2012), and provide a buffer against anxiety (Neff, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007).
4. Through its link to happiness, therapy leads to more productivity.
Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good, but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. Feeling positive emotions allows you to work harder and learn more because of the “feel good” chemicals in your brain. While productivity isn’t everything, most of us have too much to do and not enough time to do it, especially those of us with demanding jobs or those of us with kids. Increasing your levels of happiness—and with it, your productivity—not only helps you in your career but also helps you cope with the messiness and hectic pace of life.
Therapy can also help you discover obstacles blocking you from performing at your best. These types of road blocks (e.g., perfectionism or overthinking) are challenges a therapist can help you work through to find an effective solution. You and your therapist can also discuss time-management skills and whether changing negative long-term habits—such as poor prioritization or inaccurate assessments—could help with your focus and productivity. These types of changes can lead to long-term benefits such as increased work performance, greater feelings of self-efficacy, and improved relationships.
5. Therapy can help improve chronic stress.
The ways that therapy can improve long-term stress are numerous. A therapist can teach you methods of calming your body and mind, which might include techniques such as guided visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing. Therapists can also help problem-solve the sources of your stress and teach you stress-reduction techniques. They can introduce you to new concepts such as radical acceptance – that many things in your life are beyond your control and acceptance is the key to reducing your suffering. Best of all, once you learn these techniques, you carry them with you into the rest of your life. Stress relief in the short-term can build into long-term patterns of stress management.
We all can greatly benefit talking to a therapist. it’s a safe space where you can be yourself and be heard. It help us to improve our relationships, to understand and accept ourselves, and to overcome problems.