Therapy, or psychotherapy, is a process by which a person attempts to resolve certain problems by meeting with a licensed therapist. These problems include behavioral issues, coping issues, relationship issues etc. that are usually psychological. The basic premise is that all information shared with the therapist is confidential. This gives the individual a certain sense of freedom to talk about their problems. It is better if the therapist is a stranger that the person would not otherwise interact with. This reduces the risk of judgement and conflict.
Many believe that attending therapy is indulgent and selfish because it involves the betterment of a person’s mental health with the help of others. They think therapy and counselling are only about complaining about the person’s life and problems, which they should deal with on their own. However, it needs to be understood that therapy is something that everyone needs and should attend. It helps the individual cope with life and be happy.
The Meaning of Self-Care
Self-care is certain behaviours that an individual partakes in to improve their health, both physical and mental. It includes a wide range of activities, from exercise to meditation to even therapy and counselling. Many people neglect self-care in their daily life for various reasons, the biggest being that it feels selfish. Neglecting self-care can cause a wide range of issues. These could be physical issues, such as poor physical health. They could also be other issues related to various aspects of life, such as relationship issues, work performance issues, stress and depression. People rarely have any problem in taking care of their physical health, as they recognise the importance of doing so. But they do not look after their mental health.
People are busy all the time, or don’t have the money, or would rather not talk to a stranger. All these are the frequently used reasons for not going to therapy. However, what they fail to realise is that to ignore mental health issues is to bottle them up. Eventually, they will come back to the surface and may cause a lot of harm. It is better to talk to a therapist to cope with the problems effectively. Self-care is not an indulgence; it is something that every human being needs to be truly happy. One cannot disregard one’s own needs, be they be physical, mental, emotional or of any other type.
The Stigma of Mental Health
This refers to how society treats those with a mental illness. People who need help for any mental health problem are made to feel ashamed of not being able to deal with it on their own. The irony here is that this does not happen with a physical injury. Trauma that is physical, visible, tangible is not something to be ashamed of. Society is very understanding if someone needs a break due to a physical wound.
However, this is not so with a mental illness. Here, the attitude is based on the fact that if the problem cannot be seen, it does not exist. Some believe that the person fakes the problem for attention or due to laziness. Others believe it is not very serious at all. The latter says that the individual should be able to push through it and deal with it themselves, as everyone else does.
What both groups do not realise is that an illness need not be apparent for it to be real, and the seriousness of the issue varies from person to person. Each individual is unique, and what may be a minor inconvenience for one may be debilitating for another. This is the reason many go for therapy. Society should not make those who need assistance to deal with a mental illness feel guilty for doing so. It does not differ from going to a doctor for an injury. To make them feel sheepish is to feed into the mindset that therapy is self-indulgent. This leaves the person reluctant to attend counselling. They struggle on their own. Their life takes a downward turn. They may even resort to drastic measures such as alcoholism and drug abuse to cope, or even attempt suicide.
The Advantages of Therapy
Therapy and counselling mainly help those dealing with emotional and mental problems. Those with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety seek therapy. It helps them cure the problem or at least bring it down to a manageable level so that it does not affect their lives drastically.
The difference between therapy and counselling is that the latter focuses on certain definite problems and is usually short term. The former is more long term and focuses on a wide range of issues.
The main advantages of both are an increase in self-esteem, self-acceptance and confidence leading to better decision-making, reduction of stress and anxiety, development of better and strong coping mechanisms, better communication skills with people, healthy management of emotions and more. Other benefits include the ability to get rid of self-deprecating habits and the ability to contribute better to social welfare. Basically, therapy helps those who are struggling to make connections. It allows them to focus on their emotions, drives and goals so that they can live happily and be a productive member of society. They get the chance to ensure that any familial problems, relationship problems or mental health issues do not force them into a downward spiral of grief, anger and desolation.
Does Everyone Need Therapy?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. If someone is happy, do they still need therapy? Many psychologists have given different answers to this question. The most common is that yes, a person should still go to therapy. This is because while its primary purpose is to help those who are struggling with a mental illness or a personal problem that has taken over their lives, it also has other uses. It helps a person find their inner potential to perform as well as they can. It may even help uncover hidden suffering that may disenchant a person regarding any aspect of their life.
Another benefit of therapy is the ability to talk to a third person party who is removed from the individual’s daily life. As someone who is not a part of the daily life of the person seeking therapy, the therapist can set aside judgement. They can thus guide the person towards the right track using an unbiased set of eyes.
Therapy is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are many who prefer to deal with the problems they face by themselves or talk to family, friends and close relatives for advice. They would know what is best for themselves.
However, it is extremely harmful to make a person feel ashamed of going to therapy. As stated above, therapy is a need. It is never an indulgence. Therapy helps those who need a light in the darkness, a hand to hold on to, an ear to listen to their problems impartially. It is okay for someone to need help, as everyone does at least once. Even those who are perfectly happy attend therapy. They do so to improve themselves or to just talk and understand their emotions and habits. These people seek a better understanding of themselves.
Therapy is not a solution for all, because human beings are too diverse in terms of personality, economic conditions, culture, motivation and a wide range of other aspects. It may not fit all. However, everyone would benefit from having someone to help them at all times. Therapy is simply a device a person uses to unlock the best possible version of themselves and live happily.