Contrary to popular belief, seeing a therapist requires strength, courage, and self-awareness. There continues to be a stigma that surrounds seeking professional mental health treatment which could not be more wrong. Correct: this is written about therapy, by a therapist. Perhaps there is some bias, but the truth of the matter is that as a mental health professional, seeing clients do the important healing work that they do is such a powerful and liberating process.
Everyone has a past, and a story that they carry around with them day to day. These stories are full of personal experiences, perceptions of the world, and man can they be heavy. Therapy is not only a place to heal, but it can be a place to unpack some of those experiences in a safe place. This environment allows clients to navigate their inner world, where people spend so much time and energy.
Here are 10 reasons to consider seeing a therapist from Heather Rafanello, MSW, LCSW, a Hoboken-based therapist and founder of Growing Mindset Therapy LLC.
1. Unpack some baggage
Consider traveling for vacation, and running through the airport with several suitcases and bags. Sounds heavy, and might make navigating through the weaving lines at security difficult, let alone getting to the gate on time. Therapy is a place to unpack some of that baggage and lighten the emotional load that people carry around day in and day out. Therapy allows for clients to process through various aspects of their lives, to dig deeper and explore the core beliefs, or roots of their thoughts, feelings, and actions, and then let go of what no longer serves them.
A therapist is an unbiased outsider, a sounding board who can reflect back on one’s thoughts and feelings to help identify opportunities. Each and every person has different lived experiences, which all impact the lens through which they see the world. Therapy helps clients understand how their deeply rooted thoughts and feelings influence their actions, in positive ways, and in ways that one might want to change.
Therapy is a journey, one that allows for exploration and adventure. Think of a therapist as a tour guide of the mind. Therapists are there to listen, gather facts, learn about each individual person, and then ultimately guide clients through their innermost thoughts and feelings while pointing out key factors or patterns that are at play.
4. Release (*sings Let it Go from Frozen)
Sometimes there are memories, experiences, and things in life that stay stuck in one’s mind. Alternatively, these same things can be something that a person desperately clings to for dear life. These things, people, memories, feelings all serve a purpose (helpful or unhelpful). Therapy can help clients better understand the function, or reason these pillars stick around and then learn ways to grieve, let go, and move forward.
5. Drive connection
Therapy serves as a place to reconnect, with oneself, with another person, and with hope for the future. Therapy creates a place to express feelings (love, anger, grief, jealousy, etc) and practice communication and relationship skills. A therapist is also someone who can help their clients see the light at the end of what might be a dark tunnel, while also providing a compass to guide them and tangible and achievable steps to keep moving forward.
6. Embrace change
This one can be uncomfortable, but if the COVID-19 pandemic had any lessons, it has forced people to become flexible, and adapt. While this can be really helpful on our own terms, the pandemic forced this on society and not everyone was ready for it. Therapy can help people learn to pivot, cope with changes, and encourage clients to step out of their comfort zone and into their growth zone.
7. Start a new habit (or break an old one)
Many people have goals and intentions they want to achieve, or habits they want to break. Therapy can help clients understand what is causing roadblocks or hurdles along the road to success. Once clients understand their needs, possibilities become endless and growth becomes possible.
8. Find clarity
Many clients come to therapy to have a place to “lay it all out on the table.” A therapist can help pick up the pieces and process them all. Therapy is sometimes like being a detective and looking for clues as to why we are the way that we are. Relationships, careers, life goals: throw it all out on the table, and use these therapy sessions to better understand the many moving parts of life.
9. Redefine yourself
Each client is an expert on him or herself, no one has lived with you longer than you. Therapy can be a place to reshape thoughts, better understand core beliefs, and rewrite the narrative of not only the past but for the future.
10. Last but not least, these ‘unprecedented times’ (*rolls eyes*)
If the above nine reasons weren’t enough, here’s the big one. These last few years (yes, years!) have been unpredictable, shocking, scary, unknown, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone in some way, no one was left unscathed. It’s important to make space to process the mess that this has caused and regain a sense of control.
Therapy can be hard, but it’s a powerful outlet, and tool that allows people to feel safe, and just exist. One’s relationship with therapy can ebb and flow. Some might want to build a long-lasting relationship with their therapist, while others seek support for a situation or experience that is overwhelming.
It’s important to grow through what you go through, and therapy can help do just that.