Whether you call them shrinks, therapists, or counselors, there’s a good chance you have a preconceived notion of what therapists are all about – and have decided it’s not for you. But there’s a lot more to counseling than the old clichés about Freud and Oedipus complexes. Here are some good reasons to consider revisiting that idea:
1. It’s nothing to feel bad about!
It’s true, there can be a stigma surrounding therapy to some. As if somehow seeking professional input to your mental health means perhaps you’re crazy or weak. But this is all backwards. It’s both rational and insightful to go to a professional to try to improve yourself, even if you aren’t among the 25% of the population who deal with a mental health issue. People who see a therapist are often successful, determined individuals who are trying to achieve the best version of themselves.
2. It can give you tools to help you deal with emotions in a healthy way.
Whether we consciously dwell on it or not, we’re all bombarded with conflicts, feelings, and internal dialogue on a regular basis. Many of us are quite adept at repressing emotions we don’t want to deal with, but this is not a long-term solution. In fact, it’s a good way of getting emotional issues to manifest themselves in physical ways. “When people do not express feelings but swallow them and keep them buried and out of conscious awareness, one’s body often reacts,” Dr. Marian Margulies, PhD, a psychologist in New York City, explains to Forbes. “Somatizing via stomach aches, headaches, sleeping problems, and ulcers are just some of the ways our body reacts to stress and psychic pain.” . The body and the mind are deeply interconnected, and it can be difficult to experience physical well-being if you struggle to manage emotional issues. A good therapist can teach you to handle and process emotions in a healthy way, so you don’t need to keep a truckload of baggage around. And you may find yourself feeling physically better as well as mentally sound.
3. Short-term therapy can yield long-term results
Think of it as an investment in yourself. You don’t have to make a weekly deposit in your mutual fund for it to produce positive results. Likewise, you don’t need to commit yourself to a lifetime of sessions to benefit from seeing a counselor. People often report greater self-acceptance, confidence, and improved decision making from even short-term therapy. The results can be more significant if there is a specific struggle, such as anxiety, depression, or childhood trauma. Dr. David Spiegel, M.D., associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, says “Therapy can help you recontextualize the problem you’re dealing with in order to make a strategy to help you move forward.”
So if you’re looking for CrossFit for your mental and emotional wellbeing, you might want to do some research into local therapists. And even if you’re not interested, you can still let go of those outdated stigmas for when you find a friend or relative is going to counseling.