Why should I see a therapist?
When feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger or fear are overwhelming…
When your thoughts and feelings make it difficult to function on the job or in relationships…
When you’re finding it difficult to make the changes you want to make in your life…
it may be time to get help from a caring mental health professional.
How can therapy help me?
Psychotherapy is a partnership between an individual and a mental health professional. Your therapist can help you to better understand yourself, learn new skills for coping with difficult emotions and practice strategies for improving relationships, says Patricia Daza, PhD, Director of Clinical Training & Psychotherapy at The Menninger Clinic, Houston. A therapist can bring a fresh perspective on your problems and help you develop solutions.
Here are some of the benefits of working with a psychotherapist:
Increased self-awareness: Your therapist can help you learn to recognize your emotions and become aware of patterns in your behavior. For example, you may begin to ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this anxiety? What do I need to do to change the situation?”
Education, support and guidance: You’ll be able to discuss and process issues in a supportive relationship. An understanding and non-judgmental therapist can give more effective feedback than a friend might provide. And, you’ll learn communication skills, relaxation techniques and other strategies.
Improved relationships: The relationship you develop with your therapist provides a safe place to explore and learn from the issues that occur in your other relationships. “The “H” factor,” says Daza, “is that your therapist is human, too.”
Better physical health: For example, high blood pressure can be alleviated as you learn new skills for coping with stress.
Accountability: Your therapist can help you see whether the work you’re doing is helping you get better. Is your depression decreasing? Are you practicing new strategies?
What about medications?
Psychotherapy provides longer-lasting results than meds alone. “In combination, meds can give you the energy and concentration to make better use of the therapy,” says Daza, “but the therapy process empowers you to say: “’I accomplished this on my own, I did the work, not the meds’.”
It doesn’t take years in therapy to accomplish your goals. “For some people,” she says, “a few months or even a few sessions may be all that’s necessary to turn the corner. But, it takes work and a willingness to do some soul-searching. You may even feel more anxious or depressed in the beginning as you delve into issues you may have been avoiding.”
Ultimately, the more the patient puts in to therapy, the more he will gain. That means showing up, being motivated, and doing the work. The result will be life-changing.