One simple reason to go to therapy is that it helps to be listened to.
Talking to a therapist or psychotherapist will often provide treatment that is more long-term than counselling, and address issues on a deeper level. This may include looking at long-standing patterns of behaviour, talking about childhood causes of current problems, or an intensive attempt to understand and alter thinking, feeling or behaviour patterns.
People who might benefit from seeing a therapist include:
- someone dealing with a mental illness that is interfering with their life
- someone who has experienced something traumatic
- someone who wants to improve and gain a deeper understanding of relationships in their lives
Therapy — often called psychotherapy — is offered in a variety of methods and settings. The common ground is always the same: a therapist makes the time and space for you to talk about your situation and search for solutions together.
Therapists may work in individual, group, family or couples therapy. They may also work with specific issues, such as eating disorders, addictions or anxiety. Many therapists have their own offices, but others also work in agencies in the community or in hospitals.
A General Practitioner (GP) or a Medical Doctor (MD) that specializes in psychotherapy is also considered a therapist. Therapists can also be clinical psychologists or social workers that practice psychotherapy.
Therapy comes in many forms, meaning that a professional may use one set of techniques over another when working with a person. Techniques include the way a therapist may ask you questions, or the focus your conversation will take. Usually this depends on the person's needs.
As with counsellors, it's important to feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. On your first visit, ask them about the working style and approach they use. Do your research to find more about choosing the right therapist or counsellor.
Research shows that counselling or therapy is helpful. It has been found that 87% of people who reported feeling "very poor" and 92% of those who said they felt "fairly poor" before therapy showed clear improvements by the end of treatment, and that improvement was long lasting.
Benefits include improvements in self-awareness, self-esteem, confidence, communication and relationships with others. It has also been found to lower anxiety levels and improve mood. The end result of therapy can be personal growth that will empower you to discover a more meaningful and fulfilling experience of your life.
One thing to remember about therapy is that you get out of it what you put into it. Dedication to your own healing will help you realize the changes you want to see.
The relationship between you and your therapist matters a great deal: it helps to work as a team. Good therapists guide, support, and challenge you. It's normal to disagree at times, and important to share feelings or concerns you have about how therapy is going for you.
Other factors that will help you get the most out of therapy include:
- remembering that therapy is designed to equip you with long-term solutions — it's not a quick fix!
- putting in the effort to show up and be present for your sessions.
- having the courage to look at yourself honestly.
- being willing to make difficult changes in your life.
Much about going to therapy is similar to going to counselling. Though sessions and relationship differ, there are some factors that remain the same.