For most of us, therapy is like a first-aid box which is to be used in case of any emotional distress. We think seeking therapy is for the weak and troubled, and so, we don’t need therapy. But holding such an idea of therapy is like taking your car for servicing only when it meets with an accident – it is not just limiting but is also harmful to the car’s engine.
At Heart It Out we believe that therapy is for everyone. It is a tool which can enable you to lead more fulfilling lives and is absolutely essential for anyone looking to derive more zeal out of life. In this article, we would be talking about what therapy is and what it’s not, when you should and shouldn’t seek therapy, and who can benefit from therapy.
What is Therapy?
At its core, therapy was created to give people a safe space to express and discuss matters which were close to their heart. The reason each person seeks therapy is different. Some may seek it to manage the emotional turmoil caused by the loss of a relationship or a loved one, while others may wish to cope with the stress caused by physical or mental ailments. This allows therapists, who are trained to recognised behavioural patterns and cognitive distortions, to help individuals get in touch with their thoughts and emotions and bring about changes in their lives which could make it more meaningful.
This definition by the American Psychology Association sheds light on the very essence of psychotherapy, or talk therapy:
“Psychotherapy is the informed and intentional application of clinical methods and interpersonal stances derived from established psychological principles for the purpose of assisting people to modify their behaviours, cognitions, emotions, and/or other personal characteristics in directions that the participants deem desirable.”
It is important to understand therapy as a collaborative process where the therapist acts as a reflecting surface in the client’s journey towards self-improvement and fulfilment.
Benefits of Therapy
- Gaining insight into oneself: One of the primary goals in therapy is to help you, the client, develop a better insight into your own mind, relationships, and life in general. The therapist uses various tools in order to draw these insights out of you, in-turn strengthening your self-reliance
- Building a better relationship with oneself: If you are someone who has fallen into the trap of self-hate and self-pity and the likes, considering therapy could prove to be a good start towards developing a healthier self-image. A therapist would be able to help you develop a neutral perspective and equip you with tools for exercising self-love and self-care
- Building soft-skills or personal skills: Many of us face problems in areas of our lives related to time-management, money-management, and communication. If you too have been looking to improve these aspects of yourself, then you can reach out to a therapist who can help you develop these skills
- Bringing about long-term behavioural and/or lifestyle changes: Just how you get a fitness trainer for your fitness goals, consider a psychotherapist your trainer for your mental fitness, a.k.a. holistic goals in life. Be it body image issues, stress management, improving sleeping habits, or working on the relationships you hold dear, therapy can help you find effective solutions towards building the life you have always desired
- Coping with Mental Disorders: If you are dealing with clinical mental health problems such as Anxiety, Depression, OCD, or Bipolar Disorder, therapy could help you gain better insight and learn how to cope with the symptoms
- Treating physiological ailments which may be resulting from mental stressors: A lot of times we undergo physical ailments from psychological stressors. The most common example of this are ‘stress headaches’, ‘dandruff’, ‘psoriasis’ and even ‘ulcers’. Such ailments can be called “psychosomatic”, as they are sometimes the manifestations of a psychological problem. If you experience any such symptoms, a therapist would be able to help you recognise it and help you choose effective management
What Therapy Is NOT
To understand what therapy is, we must also rule out what it is not — it is not a quick-fix to all your problems. Your therapist is an individual who doesn’t have all the answers. Through continued therapy, however, your therapist can help you develop useful insight which can help you manage your concerns more effectively.
And while on the subject, here are a few other myths about therapy that simply aren’t true:
- Therapists can read your mind: Therapists are simply trained in understanding the functions of the mind and can develop an insight on your situation. If your therapist seems to know exactly what you’re thinking, they’re probably just that darn good and not a mind reader
- Therapy is only for “serious problems”, or for people who are “weak or crazy”: Therapy is for everyone. People suffering from Mental Illnesses often seek therapy more regularly, however, consulting with a therapist from time to time can prove beneficial to everyone
- You don’t need therapy, you could just talk to a friend: Having a strong social support group is essential to mental health, however, it does not replace the benefits of accessing non-judgemental therapy. While talking to friends can help you overcome a lot of challenges in life, friends and family are emotionally attached to you. Therapy provides you with insight and tools to sustain personal growth from a neutral, non emotional space.
How Does Therapy Work?
Psychotherapy involves a range of treatments which help individuals get in touch with their emotions and cope with mental health problems, emotional turmoil, as well as psychiatric disorders.
In therapy, you can find a safe and non-judgemental space to express your deepest thoughts, concerns and desires. Therapy gives you a blank canvas (metaphorically speaking) where you can observe the nuances of your mind. With their years of training, a qualified therapist can help bring to your notice negative thoughts and self-talk patterns and replace them with positive alternatives, discover and work through your blind spots and prejudices, and can help you uncover interesting patterns about yourself which you might not have otherwise.
Through everyone’s experience with therapy is unique, it is based on the same values of unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and confidentiality. What it does do is engage the client in a journey of awareness, understanding, and acceptance, aimed towards a more fulfilling life.
Types of Therapy
The type of therapy you opt for would be based primarily on the nature of your problem as well as your comfort zone.
- Individual Therapy: Individual therapy is the most common form of therapy, involving an individual and a therapist. This therapy is focused on the individual’s issues and uses a variety of techniques and methods to help them develop self-awareness and self-reliance. You could use therapy to deal with life problems such as work stress, sexuality and gender exploration grieving the loss of a loved one or a valuable relationship, or to seek help with positive life changes such as marriage, a change of career, or starting a family. Individual therapy can also be a part of Family or Couple’s Therapy plans, where members of the group are in need of individual attention
- Couples Therapy: Couples Therapy focuses solely on the ‘couple’s dynamic’. Such type of therapy, though often associated with a troubled marriage, can be availed by couples who seek to gain more insight into their relationship and derive more fulfilment out of their time together. The problems addressed in couple’s therapy range from financial troubles to sexual challenges, or maladaptive relational patterns (jealousy, insecurity, codependency, etc). Therapy can also address other relational challenges like managing in-laws and cultural shifts
- Family Therapy: This type of therapy brings together members of a family in order to address their collective concerns and conflicts. The role of the therapist is that of a mediator who helps the family members communicate their feelings and motives to each other effectively. The problems addressed during family therapy often involve inadequate or unhealthy communication patterns or improper boundaries between the family members and are beyond the realm of individual therapy
- Children’s Therapy: In case of peer pressure or traumatic events such as the death or loss of a loved one, divorce or separation of parents, or any type of abuse, the child’s mental health is put under severe stress and could prove detrimental to their development. Child Therapy, also referred to as child counselling, extends tailor-made support to help them navigate through such times. Additionally, Children’s Counselling can also prove immensely helpful for teenagers who might be going through bullying and discrimination, at the risk of abuse, battling technology addiction or are coping with learning disorders
- Senior Citizens/ Geriatric Therapy: Giving the uniqueness and severity of the multitude of problems that arise during old age, a special field of therapy was designed, so that the needs and concerns of the elderly can be adequately attended to. In Geriatric Therapy, the therapist attempts at understanding the problems the individual is going through – such as their consistently diminishing physical strength, the onset of chronic ailments, and the loss of loved ones – which could instil in them a sense of being irrelevant and purposeless in their lives. The role of the therapist here is to allow understanding and empathy to their situation and help them find means of fulfilment
- Corporate Therapy: For most of us, our work is our second home and it is essential that remains a happy one. Most professionals today deal with high levels of stress and are bound to unhealthy lifestyle choices which help them cope with it. By introducing Corporate Therapy in the organisations, employers can help their employees address these concerns, which could help the company run a lot more smoothly
- Co-founder Therapy: Bringing together elements of Corporate and Couples Therapy, Co-founder Therapy, an exclusive at Heart it Out, can help the co-founders gain compatibility with each other. By doing so, the therapy enables them to act as a stable unit and run their enterprise with much more efficiency
Therapy Is NOT Enough IF
- You are suffering from a clinical illness presently which needs immediate medical attention: You can’t “talk” yourself out of the flu or a throat infection. Same with mental illnesses. However, if your illness is also causing you emotional or psychological distress, a therapist might be able to help you address and manage these symptoms effectively
- You are not ready to introspect: One of the primary requirements that therapy lays is on your willingness to introspect. Therapy requires a lot of self-work and would not prove helpful if you are not ready, defensive or closed. An important thing to remember if you find yourself closing up during a session is that the therapist is working for you and not against you
- This is not the right therapy style for you: There are specific types of therapies which are best applicable to specific types of problems. Therapists also use different methods and techniques and every technique might not work with everyone. So, if therapy is not working for you, discuss an alternative approach with your therapist, or seek their help in finding another therapist who might be a better fit
- If you are ‘solution oriented’ rather than ‘awareness oriented’: As we stated earlier, therapy is not a “quick-fix” solution to your problems. Rather, it is a gradual process where you take charge of the wheel. Your progress in a therapy session will be based on your awareness of yourself, change in environment and stability in your emotions and it will take time
Therapy For ALL
What does a high-profile executive running a large multinational, a homemaker running a family of four, and a student in college have in common?
They can all benefit from therapy.
That’s right. Therapy is not first-aid for your mental and emotional problems but also a sounding board to gain insight into your life and yourself. Through therapy anyone – and we mean absolutely anyone – can work towards building themselves a better and more fulfilling life.
Working professionals seeking to enhance their work-satisfaction, or aiming to striking that golden work-life balance; or homemakers looking to invest in acts of self-care; or students who need help in deciding on a career path; or a young adult facing familial pressure to get married or start a family, can all find someone to talk to and to help them overcome the challenges they may be facing by seeking therapy.
You Don’t Have To Seek Therapy Only When You Are Distressed
Therapy is the perfect place to induce positive growth. So, even if you are happy and content with your life, a regular check-in with your therapist could help you solidify and enhance your strengths and further improve the quality of your life.
If you are intrigued by the prospect of therapy, or find yourself in need of a place to Heart It Out, feel free to reach out to us to book a session.
We look forward to taking care of you!