Are you at an impasse with longstanding concerns? Are there problems you can’t seem to solve? Are there habits you’re trying to overcome? Therapy can help you achieve your goals. Quality of life is the degree to which your most important needs are met. Here are four ways therapy fosters well-being.
HOW THERAPY WORKS
Therapy involves counseling by a mental health professional. This trained individual has an objective perspective. During a session, you’ll describe the challenges you’re facing and what you’d like to accomplish. The therapist will listen attentively and may take notes as you speak. A therapist is a professional ally, with whom you can openly share your thoughts and feelings. Your conversation will be strictly confidential. You can learn more about what occurs during a therapy session .
TYPES OF THERAPY
There are six basic types of therapy, each targeting specific concerns:
- psychodynamic – anxiety and depression
- cognitive behavioral – mood disorders, depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders
- family – mental illness, substance abuse, eating disorders, violence, and financial stress among family members
- group – anxiety, depression, loss, and trauma, for people seeking the support of others in similar situations
- dialectical behavior – suicidal thoughts, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, panic, mood disorders, fear of abandonment
- interpersonal – depression
You can read brief descriptions of the above types of therapies, their typical duration, and what to expect.
HOW THERAPY HELPS
1. Counseling promotes healing from painful past experiences.
Traumatic events can leave traces of pain in your body and mind. They influence your present behavior and can impact your future. Therapy identifies troublesome thinking patterns related to prior events. A therapist can help you turn a negative situation around and use it to your advantage. After exploring unpleasant memories, you’ll learn how to reconcile them and be at peace with the past. Healing results when you realize the positive lessons you’ve gained from an experience.
Example – For someone whose marriage has ended in divorce, grief, depression, anger, and guilt can make life appear bleak. Though there may be a desire to find love again, fear can stand in the way. Therapy can help a divorcee process painful emotions and recover hope and trust. The transition to a single lifestyle can be seen as a growth opportunity.
2. You can acquire a confident self-image.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to treat low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. One of the tools of CBT is replacing negative self-beliefs with positive affirmations. Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you express desirable behaviors. By consistently acknowledging your great qualities, your overall experience of life will improve. You’ll attract people and situations that will complement your upbeat mindset. A therapist may suggest statements to repeat when negative self-talk arises.
Example – Your mind constantly plays a tape that states “I make lousy decisions. I’m a loser.” A therapist might coach you to counteract these thoughts with “I’m an intelligent person. I’m always learning and improving.”
3. You’ll learn coping skills for managing stress.
Knowing how to diffuse tension empowers you to sidestep unhealthy habits. A therapist will equip you with a tool belt of techniques for dealing with pressure. Using these skills can help you ditch detrimental behaviors, such as:
- chronic lateness
- compulsive shopping
- angering easily
- poor eating habits
- being critical
Examples – A therapist might direct a smoker to a support group. They may suggest a fun form of exercise or meditation to diffuse anger. They might advise a person with a critical attitude to try volunteering to acquire compassion.
4. Therapy can help you develop and sustain healthy relationships.
A counselor can help you hone interpersonal skills, such as listening, communicating, and compromising. Knowing how to resolve conflict smooths out the rough spots in relationships. You’ll improve the way you relate to friends, family, and coworkers.
Examples – Therapy can save a troubled marriage, harmonize parent-child dynamics, and pave the way to forgiveness between estranged friends.
FULFILL YOUR POTENTIAL
“Quality of life is more important than life itself.” These are the words of French scientist Alexis Carrel. Therapy can help you resolve problems and achieve your full potential. There’s nothing to lose but limitations and greater happiness to gain.