There are many misconceptions about going to a therapist, and one of them is that therapy is only for people who are suffering from debilitating mental illness. This is far from the truth. To be human means that you will experience losses and disappointments at some points in your life, or you may be faced with a decision about a relationship or career that isn’t easy to make.
Life is full of many challenges. From time to time, you may wonder if it would be okay to make an appointment to see a therapist, not because you’re having a major crisis but just because you need someone to talk to. Psychotherapy can be very helpful even if you don’t have mental illness and aren’t dealing with major losses or problems.
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Reasons People Avoid Going to a Therapist
People avoid going to see a therapist for many reasons. Mental illness is often stigmatized, and you may fear the reactions of your family and friends. You may feel that going to a therapist would make you appear to be weak or unable to cope with the ups and downs of life.
Other reasons you might avoid going to see a therapist include:
- Believing the therapist will be judgmental or difficult to talk to
- A fear of facing painful emotions that you’ve managed to avoid feeling
- Believing that whatever is bothering you will go away if you ignore it long enough
- Feeling distrustful that a therapist may try to push you into doing things you don’t want to do
If you’ve had prior experiences with therapists that didn’t seem to help, this may make you reluctant to try again. You may also think your problems aren’t bad enough to require professional help. But the role of a therapist is to listen. Having major problems or mental illness isn’t a requirement for going to see a therapist.
Benefits of Therapy
Therapy offers an opportunity to sort through your problems with another person. Sometimes, just talking about the things that are bothering you can help you to feel less burdened or overwhelmed.
Talking to a therapist gives you an opportunity to open up to someone in a safe and confidential environment. Even though you may feel that you would get just as much out of talking to a trusted friend, there are times when your friends may be distracted or may be very opinionated about what your next move should be. When friends are critical and try to tell you what to do, you may end up feeling that it isn’t safe to talk to anyone about your feelings or experiences. This is when talking to a therapist can help.
Going to a therapist can provide benefits that go beyond just having someone to talk to. Skills-based therapies provide strategies that can be used outside therapy in many aspects of your life. Examples of skills-based therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This type of therapy teaches you how thoughts, behaviors and feelings are interrelated. It can help you to uncover unhealthy thought patterns so you can work toward healthier beliefs and behaviors.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – This is a form of CBT that emphasizes accepting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings rather than struggling with them. It teaches new skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation.
Skills you learn through CBT and DBT are designed to help you cope with future stress. These skills can help you to feel better about yourself and improve your ability to make your own decisions.
Talking to a Therapist
A therapist isn’t personally invested in what’s going on in your life, so she can be objective and simply listen. He or she can give you her undivided attention during your appointment time and listen to your experiences without bias. This is different than talking to your friends, who may be frequently interrupted and are likely to want to do their share of talking about their own issues or problems.
Therapy isn’t just for people who are in the middle of a major life crisis. Talking to a psychotherapist can help you to sort out your feelings and release pent-up emotions or secrets that you haven’t felt free to share with anyone else. Therapy can help you uncover your dreams and goals, so you can work toward achieving your full potential. It’s something that’s worth giving a try, even when all you really need is someone to talk to.
If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges, please call us at (310) 455-5258 or submit the form below to learn more about our treatment programs in Los Angeles.