There are quite a few reasons for people to begin therapy and continue in it for extended periods of time. Beyond some of the most commonly listed reasons such as treating anxiety and/or depression and helping with relationship issues, below are some of the reasons which take a longer-term view of some of the benefits of being in therapy.
Emotional Intelligence is an Essential Skill
Being able to express sensitivity, empathy and having a vocabulary for feelings and emotions are just some of the skills that makes someone emotionally intelligent. It isn’t something that we learn on a course, but rather a quality that comes with maturity, life experience and psychological work. Psychotherapy, psychology, and coaching has contributed significantly to a culture of having emotionally intelligent conversations at home and in the workplace. Nowadays it is an expectation in many workplaces, especially of those who occupy leadership roles, and an essential criterion to navigate the complexities of intimate relationships.
Learning to Feel will Keep you Healthy
This statement may seem counterintuitive for some. However, there is enough research which suggests that chronic stress can lead to illness. General practitioners are becoming more aware of this and referring their patients to counselling, psychology and psychotherapy alongside, or even instead of prescribing medication. Learning how to feel is a major factor in mitigating stress, as stress often stems from an accumulation of feelings which are pushed down by various means, ranging from plain avoidance through to addiction issues. Paying attention to feelings and emotions is the bread and butter of counselling and psychotherapy. Many of us grew up learning how not to feel. It is a skill that can be learned, and therapy is arguably the best place to do it.
Develop a Relationship with your Inner World
Our inner world is made of our hopes, dreams, thoughts, emotions, creativity, likes, dislikes, etc. Essentially everything that makes us feel alive. We all have an inner world, but developing a relationship with it is a different matter. If your parents were not acquainted with their own inner worlds and could not help you pay attention to yours, then chances are you don’t really know who you are. Some of us go through life fulfilling other’s expectations, completing tasks, or focusing on others. Developing a curiosity about your inner world requires others being curious about who you are. No one wants to feel empty inside, and the antidote to this is discovering or developing an inner world which can be rich and shared with others.
Being Vulnerable is a Good Thing
We all have vulnerabilities and blind spots. Not knowing what they are doesn’t mean they don’t impact our lives, at times in very unexpected ways. Ignoring and rejecting our vulnerabilities leads us to becoming emotionally cut off and inflexible. It also prevents us off from relating to the vulnerability in others, which leads to a lack of empathy. Knowing our vulnerabilities and being able to share them with trusted others can result and more intimacy and better relationships. Vulnerability is very different from weakness. It takes strength and courage to be vulnerable and honest with self and others.
Feel More in Control of your Mental Health
Taking personal responsibility for our own psychological health is essential in feeling more in control over our lives. How much we invest, pay attention, and commit to maintaining a healthy mind and a healthy body can help us feel more in control over our mental health and wellbeing. This feeling of being more in control can be very helpful in getting us back on track. Loss on control and a sense of uncertainty can be destabilising. It may seem like everything is falling apart, even when it isn’t. Whether life is going well, or times are challenging, learning how to stay mentally healthy should be number one priority for everyone. Therapy fulfils many functions, including giving clients the tools to become well and stay well.
Further reading by Sam Jahara