“I hate therapy- it’s only for sick people, and I’m not sick!”” is what many people say when first thinking about coming in. So, why go to therapy? The Huffington Post recently published an article titled “8 Signs You Should See a Therapist.” Huff Po (the specific author isn’t clear) points out that “while one in five American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, only about 46-65 percent with moderate-to-severe impairment are in treatment.” They noted that some problems that don’t qualify as severe mental illness can benefit from treatment and illuminated the symptoms that may warrant psychotherapy:
- Everything you feel is intense
- You’ve suffered a trauma and you can’t stop thinking about it
- You have unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a run down immune system
- You’re using a substance to cope
- You’re getting bad feedback at work
- You feel disconnected from previously beloved activities
- Your relationships are strained
- Your friends have told you they’re concerned
If you’re experiencing anything on that list, therapy may be a good choice for you.
However, the author goes on to explain that he doesn’t fully agree with this post:
We generally don’t end up doing things we “should” do; we do things we want to. Consult anyone who ever made a New Year’s Resolution for an example. You’ll have a better experience in therapy (and probably better results) if you go because you want to learn, grow, and heal, not because someone else thinks you should.
Another reason therapy is important is that therapy is effective for helping painful experiences become tolerable, and a proven method for changing harmful thinking, relational, and behavioral patterns. But it’s also used to make good lives great.
For comparison, look at two ways you manage your physical health: a visit to your MD versus working out at the gym. You go to a physician to treat a medical problem: You feel symptoms and seek treatment to return to your “normal” state. By contrast, you go to the gym to get healthy, achieve a higher physical potential, and generally make a good life better. Two different approaches to health, one focused on illness and the other wellness. Therapy is unique in that it acts as the psychological equivalent of both the MD and the gym. We go to therapy to treat problems as well as improve an already decent life.
Read next weeks post to find out more about why therapy is a good thing!
(Source: Ryan Howes, PhD)