While talking with a few psychotherapist colleagues the other day I said, “If people would come in for therapy and totally commit to exploring their lives in great depth, their lives would get so much better in every area”. I know that from my many years of experience in my own personal therapy as well as my 30 years of private practice psychotherapy. Why in my 30 years of practicing psychotherapy did some clients stay, putting tremendous effort into addressing their issues through self-awareness, courage and hard work while others left after only a few sessions? Why indeed? They were all in pain and confused in their personal and /or professional lives. They were suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, grief, loneliness, drug and alcohol addiction, unhappy marriages, unfulfilling sex lives.
Perhaps the ones that left did not really know and understand how and why therapy could change their lives for the better. I certainly know how and why therapy is a fantastic journey into personal growth and positive change, but if the positive aspects of therapy are not pointed out and defined to clients and the world at large, people will be hesitant to enter and commit to really knowing themselves. So, here goes. These are the 10 reasons I believe therapy with a licensed professional is a great thing for anyone seeking answers and new pathways.
1. Finding and committing to working with a therapist can be the one place where it is all about our own self.
This is totally your time to be used exactly as you choose. You are actually able to talk about your life, feelings and thoughts while an objective professional therapist listens to you and validates you. The therapist is in the room committed to hearing your story, interpreting the meanings behind the words and helping you to understand your Life Script.
2. Therapy is a safe place because the sessions are confidential.
The therapist cannot reveal the contents of the session unless the client’s life is in danger due to a suicide plan and/or attempt, threats to commit a homicide, child abuse and elder abuse. The therapist explains the limits of confidentiality in the first session and usually in writing.
3. If we are working with the right therapist for us, a bond is formed which is like no other.
I once worked with a client who came to me in a severe depression. She actually thought she was going crazy because she questioned every thought she had and had lost most of her confidence in herself. She had always had a great sense of humor but hadn’t laughed or cracked a smile in 6 months. When I interpreted one of her comments in an unconventional manner, she actually laughed and said “OMG, I am not crazy. I can still laugh”.
We had made a great connection, because laughter is often the best medicine and my sense of humor has been one of my best friends. This client never took any medication but committed to exploring her Family of Origin System to uncover the causes of her depression and later anxiety. She went on to become a licensed therapist who is quite successful!
4. Therapy will teach you that life is a gift to be lived fully and happily.
If you are depressed, anxious, addicted to alcohol or drugs, have an eating disorder, are in an unhappy relationship or marriage or isolated and alone, you are not embracing the gift of life and allowing yourself to work, play and connect with others from your True Self. Life is a schoolroom which offers so many wonderful experiences and lessons to encourage and propel you forward in all your activities. You are here to learn, share your wisdom, joy, laughter and even your tears with fellow travelers on this wondrous Life path.
5. Therapy will help you see that the answers are within you.
You live with yourself 24 hours a day and if you believe we are immortal, we go on forever. Don’t you think you deserve to really know yourself? A good therapist builds a relationship based on trust and safety. There is no judgment, just the space and time to connect to that inner wisdom which truly knows who and what we are.
We cannot hear and use that inner, intuitive wisdom if we are numbed out by addictions, depression, disassociation, fear or an abusive Family of Origin. Therapy gives us wonderful tools to help us climb out of the abyss of unhappiness into the sunshine of peace of mind, serenity, self-esteem and a solid love and respect for ourselves.
6. Therapy helps you to discover your gifts, talents and creativity.
How do you want to express yourself in this thing called Life? Have you been blessed with gifts as an artist, actor, attorney, salesperson, pilot, soldier, filmmaker, teacher, writer, circus performer, plumber, nurse, parent or therapist? Don’t you need to know so you may develop those talents and share them with the world? Suppose Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Jonas Salk, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, just to name a few, had never known their gifts and shared them with the world? We would be back in the Dark Ages.
A good therapeutic relationship encourages you to investigate that inner self and become aware of how you want and need to express in this world. The discovery of who you truly are lifts the veil of sadness and confusion so your wonderful light may shine.
7. Change is the only constant in life and therapy will help you through the changes.
It is that human part of us which craves safety, familiarity, routine in our relationships, our professional lives and our homes. But suppose the familiar and safe are stopping us from growing into what we really need. I love these lyrics in a Rolling Stones song: “You don’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you might just find you’ll get what you need”. I was just a teenager when I first heard these lyrics, didn’t quite get the full impact, but as my life has progressed through the years, I understand completely. The status quo is comfortable, but can also be deadening to our process of growth and self –empowerment which are the reasons we are here on this plane. Life is filled with countless opportunities for us to stretch our mental, emotional and creative muscles, but we have to be willing to take risks and invite in change. And change is hard and scary. Every client with whom I have worked for over 30 years has entered therapy because the status quo had become so painful that change was necessary for them to find the tools needed to understand themselves and ultimately move forward.
8.Therapy helps you understand the Family of Origin System…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A gifted and experienced psychotherapist introduces the client to the Family of Origin System. Each of us has accepted the Life Script we learned from birth. Some messages from our childhood are wonderful and life affirming, while others have stymied our ability to succeed in a few or many areas. There is a cause for every effect. If we were raised in a family which encouraged, loved, validated, guided and inspired each child, that child would evolve into a successful and well adjusted adult. If the opposite was true, the adult is in pain, confused, lost on the personal and/or professional level. It is time for an intervention…. a journey through our childhood Family System to understand and change any negative causes.
9.Therapy shows you how to be a shining light for the world.
Each individual who commits to and works hard at developing the self awareness necessary to become that confident, centered, high functioning person who shines a light of positive, open energy stops the Multi-Generational Transmission Cycle. In other words, our thoughts, actions and behavior are no longer involuntary. We are no longer marionettes on a string manipulated by someone else. We have learned to truly BE the selves we were born to express. And, we take that positive energy, that light, into every transaction, every experience, every relationship and let our light and wisdom inspire all with whom we come in contact.
10.Therapy teaches honest communication and boundary setting.
Knowing who we are and how we feel defines us as individuals. It is imperative that each person communicates his/her feelings and thoughts in an open honest manner. If not, we present a false self to the world and deny ourselves the pleasure of connecting to others in a genuine manner. Honest communication sets boundaries for who and what we are while allowing all with whom we come into contact to experience a genuine human being
I realized while writing this article the importance of really knowing and understanding the process and content of psychotherapy. When I started my psychotherapy practice over 30 years ago, there was no Internet, no Google, no Facebook and no therapy websites. Referrals came from former clients who told their friends and colleagues how much better they felt from psychotherapy with me. Today, there is so much information available on the Internet that it can be confusing to anyone searching for help and guidance. Therefore, in order to make the right choice of whom to see, it is really imperative that the positive aspects of therapy be clearly explained. As I said in my 10 reasons, it can be one of the most inspiring and profound adventures into self- awareness a person will ever take. Writing this reminded me, and I hope for all who read this, the phenomenal path to freedom, self-awareness and personal/professional growth which therapy provides for all not content with the status quo.