By Lauren Presutti
Sometimes it’s hard to determine if therapy is right for you. Movies like Girl, Interrupted (1999) and TV shows like Shameless (2011) portray individual or family problems that leave some people thinking, “my problems are like that, I don’t need therapy.” Some feel as though they have to be experiencing a certain level of emotional distress before therapy is justified. This is a complete fallacy. We firmly believe that therapy can benefit anybody – there is nothing too small or too big to talk about. Your emotional experiences are valid and worthy of being explored and processed in a safe space with a trusted therapist. We all need someone to talk to from time to time. There is no need to have an identifiable “problem” or emotional “issue” to benefit from counseling.
In fact, most people who begin therapy with us at River Oaks Psychology do not identify with having any particular mental health condition. Instead, they are seeking therapy to give themselves an opportunity to talk about whatever is on their mind without any judgment. Sometimes the best experiences in therapy are the ones that derive from a person who seeks therapy for general processing of who they are and how they relate to the world around them. We want you to remember that therapy is controlled by you – it is your time, your space, your session, and your opportunity to use the support from your therapist in whatever way feels most helpful.
Everybody’s experiences in therapy will be different, which means the benefits you gain from therapy will depend on your unique journey in this process. Some people find relief from symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, or behaviors like people-pleasing, perfectionism, or self-criticism, while others are seeking healing from past trauma and benefit from therapy as they develop a stronger ability to acknowledge and accept painful experiences. Some people seek therapy to work on their self-worth so they can better understand their strengths, skills, and capabilities. Others come to therapy to learn coping skills, strategies for stress relief, interpersonal skills, or skills related to distress-tolerance, mindfulness, managing negative thinking patterns, or fostering greater internal peace. Similarly, many people learn about self-care in therapy, which helps them prioritize their own needs and find greater balance in life. Many people also experience improved relationships after participating in therapy because stronger communication and interpersonal skills are developed through the counseling experience.
Therapy can also provide a greater sense of hope, optimism, and belief in your ability to manage the ups and downs of life. Sometimes therapy is the best outlet that a person can access because it provides a confidential space to express and regulate emotions. We can often feel mixed up with a variety of emotions in life that can feel overwhelming from time to time. Therapy allows you to verbally process what you are going through, which can sometimes lead to a greater sense of control. Other times, the work in therapy is centered on accepting things that are beyond your control, which is just as valuable for internal peace and happiness.
Perhaps most importantly, therapy often leads to people feeling more empowered. Many people feel like there are things that hold them back in life, and therapy allows them to identify these barriers, learn ways to tackle them, and as a result, develop a greater sense of personal pride and appreciation for themselves. Therapy often provides clarity and can help people embrace a greater sense of self-understanding, purpose, and clearer life goals. Some people also find that therapy helps them feel compassionately cared for as they work with an active listener providing unconditional positive regard.
Therapy is a sacred space. It’s unlike anything else. It’s the one area of your life where you never have to worry about the reactions or thoughts from the person sitting across from you, because you know that person is solely committed to YOUR journey, the good, the bad, and the ugly – without any judgment. There’s problem-solving, deep reflections, self-understanding, skill-building, empowerment, and a thousand other little moments that can be transformative for becoming be a better version of yourself. Sometimes we cry in therapy. Sometimes we laugh in therapy. Sometimes we yell, or vent, or say things that we wouldn’t dare to say to our family or friends. We want you to forget about the outside world and just talk to us, person to person.