Many believe that seeing a psychologist is only for people suffering from a mental illness. However, you may be surprised to learn that psychotherapy has a multitude of benefits for everyone. Therapy is not only about treating mental health problems. Therapy is about facilitating wellness and growth - this is incredibly influential for change in our personal, relational and/ or vocational spheres of life.
With physical health, people often look at poor health as being either the presence of an unwanted pathogen or condition, and good health as the absence of those. With mental health, we need to consider this on more of a spectrum. People can scale all the way from completely dysfunctional to thriving and embracing life with open arms. Most of us tend to find ourselves at various midpoints between those extremes, although very few may stray towards either extreme. A psychologist is there to help people move up the scale, towards the thriving side, and away from the dysfunctional side.
People often turn to psychotherapy when they have unwanted behaviours, thoughts or emotions which are disrupting their everyday lives. While they typically wait until these processes are severely hampering their happiness, there is likely always room for most of us to improve on these aspects. For this reason, therapy is a good process to turn to if you are looking to change or better any of your thoughts, feelings or emotions - even if you are not in a crisis.
Therapy is typically aimed at addressing our thoughts, behaviours and emotions and the way in which they interact.
Through awareness of these processes, we are able to gain better control and understanding of ourselves and this leads to a more mindful and less reactive way of being. These changes can be aimed at correcting dysfunctional processes which were causing emotional distress previously, or alternatively aimed at improving existing quality of life.
There is definite stereotype that only “crazy” or “sick” people go to therapy, but really, most therapy clients are more similar to the rest of the general population than not. Many clients speak about avoiding becoming emotional in order to “remain strong,” when really it is the strong ones that are able to face their emotions directly and seek help when they need it.
Many psychologists will often seek therapy for themselves, not necessarily because they are struggling with serious mental health problems, but because they recognize the value in therapy as a tool for personal growth. I’d encourage anyone considering the question of whether or not they need therapy to give it the benefit of the doubt. I think therapy has something to offer anyone who is willing to take on the challenge!