Benefits of therapy
The goal of talking therapy is to increase the autonomy of the person and to provide the tools and resources necessary for tackling problems and difficult thoughts and emotions more resourcefully. As a consequence, therapy results in more helpful thinking patterns and realistic perspectives of events, more balanced emotions, and more helpful behaviours, which inevitably leads to an improved quality of life. The benefits of therapy are not limited to the time therapy lasts, and the strategies and resources learnt in therapy can continue to benefit individuals long after therapy has ended, promoting lasting changes and improved mental well-being.
You can benefit from therapy whether you are struggling and think you might need to see a therapist to improve certain symptoms, or you are not struggling at the moment, but want to work on self-development and acquire skills for a more fulfilling life.
Here we summarise some of the benefits of talk therapy:
- Therapy helps you feel better: explaining how you feel to a therapist that accepts you and supports you can make you feel good. When you talk about your worries or problems you might feel lighter, and it helps your brain to process better these difficulties. Hence, by just telling you might feel an emotional release.
- It offers you emotional support: we know life can be difficult sometimes. For those times when you need to speak to someone, therapy offers you a confidential and safe space where you can talk about your concerns, thoughts and emotions knowing that you won’t be judged, regardless of what you bring to the sessions. Your therapist is there to accept you and your experiences as they are. It is a place for you to explore difficult issues with the help of a professional that will accompany you in the process.
- It increases your awareness and facilitates self-discovery: working with a therapist will help you understand better your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours and how they interrelate with each other. Through the exploration of your personal history, your past and present experiences, your current behaviours, biases and your core beliefs, attitudes and assumptions, you will gain a better awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.
- You learn effective coping skills: one of the main benefits of talk therapy is the skills you learn. The therapist teaches you effective tools and strategies to manage your emotions and difficulties. Scientifically proven effective therapy tools include breathing techniques, grounding methods, gratitude journals, etc. Here you can read about more examples of cognitive-behavioural tools you could learn in therapy. These and other skills will allow you to face problems and emotions more effectively in the future.
- You acquire problem-solving skills: that in life we have to face problems is a fact. However, not everybody is proficient at solving them. You can work with your therapist to improve your capacity to solve problems, an essential skill for a balanced life.
- It teaches you how to change your limiting beliefs: it is not the events and problems; it is how we interpret them that causes us trouble. When we learn to look at things in a different, more helpful way, things change. One of the benefits of talk therapy is that it helps you to become aware and challenge your current beliefs about the world, self, future and others.
- It helps you to improve your interpersonal relationships: therapy can help you to improve your communication skills, set up healthy boundaries, develop empathy and compassion towards others and yourself, solve relationship problems more effectively, and strengthen your relationships. This can have a positive impact on your personal, family and work relationships.
- It helps you to increase self-compassion: another way therapy can benefit you is by helping you to develop self-compassion and acceptance. You learn to recognise your self-critical voice and substitute it for a more soft, compassionate and understanding language.
- It helps you reduce symptoms of mental health issues: most of us struggle with our mental health at certain points in our life. If your life is being impacted by anxiety, depression, eating disorder, social anxiety, OCD, or any other psychological issue, therapy can help you understand these problems, and reduce or manage their symptoms, working your way to recovery.
- It empowers you: through the process of therapy, you learn new ways of thinking and behaving, and you become more resourceful in the face of adversity. These skills empower you to live a more fulfilling life and solve problems and manage difficult emotions more skillfully.
- It helps to prevent future crises: therapy gives you the tools you need to notice when a possible lapse might happen, and put the resources needed to prevent it or reduce its impact. It is not that you won’t feel difficult emotions (that is impossible) or symptoms, but you will understand them better, and will better be capacitated to deal with them. In other words, every time you fall, you will be able to get up quicker.
- Therapy changes your brain: in the past decades, science has discovered that the brain is plastic and can be modified. In line with this discovery, previous research has shown how psychotherapy can change your brain (Barsaglini et al., 2014). Therapy can change the belief system, and the emotional and behavioural patterns of a person, which correlates with changes at the brain level, for a long-lasting improvement.
It's important to note that the benefits of counselling can vary for each individual, and the effectiveness of therapy depends on various factors, including the therapeutic relationship, the type of therapy used, and your commitment to the process. Some people experience benefits from the first session, while others might require more time. As such, there is no rule for how long does it take for therapy to work.