If you’ve never experienced therapy before and are considering it, you may be fearful and reluctant to give it a go – after all there are many misconceptions about therapy floating about that may have made you feel apprehensive. But participating in therapy can result in many incredible benefits. Sure, you may be nervous about meeting a perfect stranger and pouring your heart out to them, but have a read of the following 8 life-changing effects of therapy and you might feel more confident about booking your first session.
Therapy increases your sense of confidence and self worth
Many people feel lacking in confidence and self-worth. They measure themselves against others and find themselves lacking. They find themselves unable to say no and constantly try to please others in order to feel more worthy or acceptable. The process of therapy can help you to explore to roots of your lack of confidence and, by providing you with unconditional acceptance and warmth, your therapist will help to you find the confidence you have previously been lacking. Gradually you will find yourself taking risks, being more yourself, and liking yourself more. It’s a great feeling when you realise you have enough confidence to say no to someone (in a nice way), to make your own decisions without relying on the opinions of others, or can disagree with someone and not feel as if it is the end of the world. With this increase in confidence comes an incredible feeling of empowerment. You won’t look back.
Therapy increases your ability to set healthy personal boundaries
Personal boundaries are the limits we use to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of by others. As mentioned above, if you struggle with low self esteem or confidence, you will most likely also struggle to set good boundaries. For example, you might find yourself constantly helping others at your own expense. This is exhausting. However, as your confidence and sense of identity increase in the course of therapy, so too will your ability to set healthy boundaries. You will be able to decide what you are willing to do, and what you prefer not to do, and to feel good about this decision. This doesn’t mean that you will become selfish and never help anyone else, but that you will know your own limits and will be able to enforce them if you feel you need to.
Therapy improves your assertiveness
Following on from an increase in confidence and boundary setting, will be your ability to be more assertive. Often confused with aggression, assertiveness is the ability to calmly and confidently stand up for yourself or express your views, while being respectful of others. If you are lacking in confidence, you might remain passive and avoid confrontation, for fear of sparking an angry response in others. However, one of the wonderful effects of effective therapy is that you will grow in assertiveness, while your fears about what others think will lessen. And as you practice your assertiveness, your self-esteem will be boosted, as will the respect you receive from others.
Therapy improves your relationships
It’s likely that any issues you have impact those around you and cause difficulties within your relationships. You might feel angry, depressed or severely anxious, and when people are experiencing such strong emotions, this can make it hard to maintain healthy relationships. Perhaps you find yourself snapping at your partner or children, or become very hurt or resentful at the actions of those around you, taking everything personally. By allowing you to express your feelings and explore what is going on for you, therapy can allow for a new perspective. You will begin to feel compassion and empathy for yourself. And somehow, when you do this, you will feel compassion and empathy for others. As your issues resolve, so too will your resentment and anger; your communication with others will improve and therefore so too will your relationships.
Therapy restores balance to emotions and thoughts
When people are depressed or anxious, they often experience negative thoughts that can become intrusive and distressing. Situations seem black and white and negative emotions are felt deeply. For example, thoughts such as “Nobody likes me” or “I never do anything right” might make you feel worse about yourself and cause you to avoid socialising, which will in turn increase your sense of isolation and loneliness. By giving you space to talk about what you are feeling and come to terms with it, therapy can allow for new perspectives to be gained. Suddenly things don’t seem quite so black and white, and you will realise that your thoughts are not facts, and that they are not you either. Freeing yourself from your negative thoughts will free you to enjoy a more balanced, happier life.
Therapy leads to a decrease in anxiety and stress
We feel anxious when our mind feels threatened and we become locked in a vicious circle of fear. It can cause us to lose sleep, have trouble concentrating, experience frightening physical symptoms and feel restless or unable to sit still. Quite simply, it can take over our lives. Therapy can help by identifying the underlying factors causing your anxiety, helping to make a connection between the thoughts, feelings and behaviours fuelling your anxiety and panic. With the support of your therapist you might also be able to learn relaxation and breathing techniques that can make a big difference too.
Therapy can lead to increased physical wellbeing
Did you know that therapy can lead to improved physical as well as mental health?1 Not only can poor physical health lead to the development of mental health problems, but as the two are linked, poor mental health also negatively impacts our physical health, increasing the risk of certain health conditions. For example, individuals rated as highly mentally distressed were 32% more likely to have died of cancer than those with lower levels of distress.2 Depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. And a major study in the U.S found that childhood trauma impacts later physical health significantly.3 The more adverse childhood experiences a person has, the higher their risk of developing conditions including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and liver disease.
So, therapy, which will improve your mental health, will also help to boost your physical health and wellbeing.
Although I have listed 8 amazing ways in which therapy can transform your life positively, there are actually many more. From tackling unresolved trauma to helping you achieve goals and move forward, to figuring out who you are and want to me. Or by simply providing a safe place to be heard and seen accurately and without judgement. If you haven’t already given it a go, I encourage you to take action immediately. Book that first session, give it a chance, and see how you get on. If you are lucky enough to find the right therapist for you, you will flourish and blossom.
With love and best wishes for your journey onwards,
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1. Eells T. D. (2000). Can Therapy Affect Physical Health?. The Journal of psychotherapy practice and research, 9(2), 100-104.
2. Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health
3. Felitti, Anda, Nordenberg, Williamson, Spitz, Edwards, . . . Marks. (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258.