Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
At some point in life, you're certain to face a challenge that tests you emotionally, mentally or even physically.
Whether it's coping with the loss of a loved one, pressures at work or school, body-image issues, or any other stressful occurrence, your approach to handling difficulties can play a big role when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing.
For some, powering through every mental and emotional strain is the preferred way to go about life.
However, to properly manage stress, anxiety, depression or even just the toll of everyday living—speaking with a mental health professional can help you navigate and overcome your challenges.
If you've ever found yourself asking, "Should I go to therapy?" here’s why ‘yes’ is always a good answer.
Consider the relief you feel after sharing a secret or difficulty with a loved one. That’s a lot like what therapy feels like.
Psychotherapy takes this basic premise and applies tested techniques to help you manage all sorts of difficulties.
Otherwise known as talk therapy, this treatment requires a meeting between a patient and a licensed mental health professional like a psychiatrist or counselor.
In these meetings, you can expect to talk with your chosen healthcare professional and navigate disturbing emotions, thoughts, behaviors and everyday challenges.
Therapy is a popular option when serious matters of mental wellness are at stake. This is especially important considering that one in five people in the U.S. alone lives with a mental illness.
It’s important to note, though, that therapy is not reserved exclusively for mental difficulties. In fact, it’s available to help with everything from anxiety and depression to self-confidence and sleep difficulties.
Because therapy is so versatile, it can be ideal for just about anyone.
Mental health disorders, emotional challenges and sometimes physical illnesses of a mental origin may require specialized care to be properly managed.
When therapy is sought for these difficulties, a healthcare provider may recommend a specific approach which could include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps clients identify and understand the reasons behind certain negative behaviors.
When understanding is reached during therapy, a healthcare professional can provide techniques to swap a negative outlook for more positive ways of reasoning.
This approach is centered on learning and how it can affect the development of normal or abnormal behaviors.
It emphasizes the role conditioning plays in a person's outlook, while making use of this same conditioning to change unwanted aspects of a person's behavior.
If a person frequently displays problematic behaviors, feelings or thoughts, a psychoanalytic approach can go beyond these behaviors and feelings to examine how the subconscious comes to play.
Psychoanalysis involves understanding the unconscious meaning behind actions. This approach then teaches patients about themselves and the motivations behind their attitudes.
This form of therapy is suited for those without mental health conditions, but who are interested in becoming better versions of themselves.
Humanistic therapy focuses on the fact that everyone has the potential to improve.
It’s thought that self-actualization can come about with the right amount of care and nurturing.
A humanistic approach takes into account the individual’s ability to make the right choices, and promotes care and concern for others.
To get the best results, this form of therapy takes different approaches and customizes them into a treatment suited for the challenges an individual may be facing.
For example, a healthcare professional may recommend both psychoanalysis and talk therapy to help tackle life’s challenges.
Attending therapy may not always be the easiest decision. On one hand, trusting a stranger with your innermost thoughts and vulnerabilities can appear daunting.
On the other hand, what if people assume you are weak?
It's important to note that taking the leap to seek therapy is a big show of strength; it is confirmation that you are human and not afraid to seek help when necessary.
Trusting a professional with your honest thoughts and secrets is simply a step to getting to the other, sunnier side of your mental health and wellness.
If you're still unsure of whether or not you need therapy, consider the following reasons that could require professional mental guidance:
If you are constantly on pins and needles juggling deadlines, or other work difficulties, or your home life is troubled by relationship challenges, childcare struggles, or serving as a primary caregiver, you could be experiencing an extreme burden. And the thing is, these scenarios are extremely common.
Seeking professional help can be one of the most important decisions to help prevent the damage that comes with feeling overwhelmed while dealing with these difficulties.
Stress can take a physical toll, too, and taking care of your mental state can help you feel better all around.
Therapy may be necessary in cases where physical symptoms manifest without an obvious organic reason.
For instance, you could experience a reduced appetite, persistent tiredness, a sudden loss of interest in activities your once enjoyed, or a nagging sense of hopelessness—all without any justifiable cause.
In such cases, where a physical examination is unable to give a satisfactory answer, it's always best to investigate alternative possibilities using therapy.
In some cases, a healthcare professional might recommend you seek therapy. This may occur where a mental health condition such as depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is suspected.
In these instances, your healthcare provider might propose psychotherapy as well as medication.
Sometimes seeking therapy may have little to do with you, but is rather geared toward showing the best care and producing the best results for a loved one with a medical condition.
For example, therapy may be suggested when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties.
Therapy can teach the best ways to handle her care—and may also teach you how to protect your wellbeing when providing for another’s needs.
Because therapy is so diverse, deciding to engage in frequent sessions may not always be about fixing something that's wrong.
Sometimes it may simply be to enhance or review elements of yourself that you feel could use some professionally guided improvement.
After making the decision to partake in therapy, there are a number of benefits you can expect to enjoy. Some of these include:
If you engage the services of a therapist to manage your anxiety or depression, there's a high chance this decision can help you return to your normal level of functioning within a relatively short time.
Therapy has also been shown to have long-lasting effects that persist even after sessions have been discontinued.
Therapy can provide symptom relief and even help you make more positive decisions—which can help you lead better-adjusted happier lives.
Therapy is also a useful way to improve relationships with your children, spouses, friends and colleagues.
Therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy are able to provide healthier ways to manage life's stressors.
Techniques learned during sessions can help prevent burnout and perpetual malaise about life.
If you've been subjected to past trauma whether from an accident, loss or extreme source of stress, the incident can have a lasting effect on your wellbeing.
Trauma can produce PTSD, or may have more subtle, yet dangerous consequences.
Therapy can help provide proper techniques to process trauma, so healing can more quickly take place.
First, bravo! It takes strength and courage to seek help and treatment.
If you’ve decided you do need online therapy, a good place to start is examining the potential benefits and techniques, to help find the right provider.
A healthcare professional can also help point you in the right direction.
Approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis and humanistic techniques can all offer the opportunity to help you navigate life’s challenges in a safe and healthy manner.
Therapy can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, and provide a higher quality of life.
The decision to take part in therapy may be personal, but if you consistently feel worn down or are exhibiting symptoms with no known causes, or even if you would simply like to have a happier outlook on life—seeking professional help is the way to go.
These days, it’s easier to find help thanks to the internet. If you're all set to give therapy a try, sign on for your first session with a trusted therapist, right from the comfort of your home.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.
Start your mental wellness journey today.