What Are the Benefits of Therapy?
Therapy can help people improve symptoms of mental health conditions, but it can also help people with more general emotional difficulties, losses, and life challenges. Regardless of what issues you face, therapy may be able to help– no problem is too big or too small.
It feels good to have someone who can listen and offer guidance when needed. Studies have demonstrated that therapeutic effects can last longer than medication, as you learn essential skills in therapy that can be utilized long after treatment ends. Some potential benefits to doing therapy include:
- Improved mental health and overall health
- Enhanced coping skills for everyday issues and challenges
- Greater self-knowledge and understanding of others
- Achievement of personal or career goals
- Better relationships with friends, family and colleagues.
Being aware of the benefits can inform about what to expect when engaging in the therapy. However, it is less clear when one should consider seeing a therapist.
When Should I Consider Therapy?
People consider therapy for several reasons. Some people go to therapy when they are experiencing major emotions that are too overwhelming to handle, such as hopelessness, sadness, overwhelm, anger, or resentment. However, it is recommended that you consider therapy before you get to this stage.
Some common factors that initiate the process of seeking a therapist are:
- Stress and anxiety
- Confidence and self-esteem issues
- Grief and loss
- Illnesses (yourself or a loved one)
- Traumatic events
- Relationship issues
- Sleep issues
- Major life transitions (divorce, job loss, relocation)
In addition to these factors, the American Psychological Association recommends you consider seeing a therapist when you start to notice these signs:
- Thinking about an issue or coping with it takes at least an hour per day
- The issue causes you embarrassment, guilt, or shame
- The issue makes you avoid people and places
- The issue has decreased your quality of life
- The issue has affected other parts of your life (school, work, relationships)
- You’ve made changes or developed habits to cope with the problem
What if I already Tried therapy, and It Didn’t Help?
Therapy doesn’t always “work” right away. Waiting for symptoms to go away can be very frustrating. Even with a great therapist, it can take a while for symptoms to improve, sometimes months. It is important to stick with therapy, as it works better the more you engage in the therapeutic work.
To make therapy more effective, it is recommended that you and your therapist discuss your expectations and treatment goals and track the treatment outcomes as you progress with therapy. For example, you can use a depression or anxiety scale to monitor your depression and anxiety levels weekly and talk to your therapist about the progress or lack of progress you’re seeing based on the tracking. Often, an open discussion about treatment outcomes can help the therapist adjust the course of treatment so you can achieve your goals.
It is also common for people to try a few therapists out before sticking to one, so maybe you haven’t found the right therapist. It is vital that you get along with your therapist and trust them, so therapy has positive outcomes. Having a therapist, you don’t like won’t get you far. Part of finding the right therapist is looking for one specializing in what you need. For example, if you have experienced major trauma and need a therapist for that, you should look for a therapist with experience in trauma and PTSD.
What Are the First Steps to Finding a Therapist?
Since not every therapist is the good match for someone seeking therapy, finding a therapist is usually a process of trial and error. Researching what therapist you need is a good first step. There are also numerous online tools that can help you find the right therapist. For example, HerOutcome is a platform that uses a proprietary algorithm to match women with a therapist who is specialized in women’s mental health based on the woman’s preferences and needs and the therapist’s clinical approach for a good fit.
When looking for a therapist, consider what type of therapist you prefer and any specialties you would like your therapist to have. For example, if you prefer a solutions-focused therapist who can help you identify the problems and solutions to the problems, then cognitive behavior therapy may be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you are curious about why you think, feel, and behave the way you do, then working with a psychodynamic therapist can help you explore deeper emotions and patterns that lead you to make certain decisions. Most therapists are trained to work eclectically, meaning they are equipped to offer different approaches according to your needs and goals.
It is also important to consider the costs of therapy, depending on the specific therapist and any insurance you might have. If you have insurance and would like to use it, it is a good idea to look at your insurance directory to see which therapists are on the panel and accept your insurance.
How to Prepare for Therapy?
There is no “perfect” way to prepare for therapy but knowing what you want to get out of therapy can help you prepare ahead of your first session.
Other things you can do to prepare for your session are:
- Have a set of questions ready for your therapist. This can be about their training, expertise, clinical approach, or general questions about how the therapy will work.
- Make some goals about what you want to get out of the therapy. For example, “if therapy works, I will move on from my breakup, I will know what kind of jobs I want to apply for, or I will know how to talk to my friends about what bothers me in our relationship.”
- Have any information about your symptoms, problems, or expectations ready to share. The more the therapist knows, the better they can help you.
Finding the right therapist is the first step to receiving all the benefits therapy offers. If you are a woman in New York, HerOutcome can connect you with a therapist that fits your needs.
Connect with a therapist who’s specialized in women’s mental health today.
Davis, J. L. (n.d.). How to find a therapist. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/how-to-find-therapist
Why should I go to therapy? 8 signs it’s time to see a therapist. (2022, January 24). Verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/long-distance-relationships-can-they-work-4174038#citation-2
Joy, R. (2020, August 17). 9 tips for finding the right therapist. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-find-a-therapist
Psychotherapy. (2016, March 17). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/psychotherapy/about/pac-20384616
Psychology Today Staff. (n.d.). Therapy center. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/therapy#:~:text=If%20they%20are%20struggling%20with,therapy%20to%20be%20immensely%20helpful.
Vandergriendt, C. (2020, November 24). Why therapy? The most common reasons to see a therapist. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/do-i-need-therapy