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Why Everyone Ought To Be In Therapy & Why Most Aren’t
By Megan Anderson, Legends Report Writer
"Asking for help is always a sign of strength" - Michelle Obama
Therapy is life-changing. In an ideal world, everyone would have access to it and this article will explore the potential it has to make our society stronger, happier and more tolerant. It’s important to recognise from the outset that this is a best-case scenario.
In reality, most people don’t even think about going to therapy. There is still a stigma associated with having counselling, mentoring, coaching or any form of therapy - that there is something inherently wrong with us or we have to have something bad happen to us before seeking support with our mental health.
This is one of the things at the Legends Report we are extremely passionate about and enable many ordinary people to embark on mentoring, coaching and counselling support at the level that they need it. This article will first look into the science-based benefits of therapy, followed by busting a few common misconceptions and suggesting some forms of support that might work for you.
The Benefits of Counselling & Therapy
Any form of counselling and therapy can seem daunting at first and to some, it can feel like an unbearable admission of needing help. Really, it should be viewed as a wise move in life, because when you have the right counsellor or therapist supporting you, the results are incredible.
Firstly, it provides you with a person to speak with objectively, in an environment free of judgement. This can give you the confidence to be truly honest about how you are feeling. I personally find it really hard to admit my negative thoughts to someone who I know cares about me. Whilst a good therapist will of course care about your wellbeing, it’s definitely easier to open up when you aren’t so worried about how it might impact them emotionally; after all, they are professionally trained to do this.
Therapy and counselling are backed in science. Study after study has shown the benefits of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and Psychodynamic therapy in improving your mental health. For example, a study by Rudolf Uher and Barbara Pavlova (both senior researchers) in 2016 showed considerable long term benefits of CBT, including less recurring depressive symptoms and higher employment prospects.
Great counsellors and therapists are also experts but have a level of self-awareness to challenge and guide you appropriately.
Whilst speaking with friends and family is a well-needed comfort that you shouldn’t ignore, they usually do not have the knowledge and objective empathy that the right therapist can provide. These professionals have years of training in order to give you the best advice and structured solutions possible - so take it.
“It's a wonderful thing to be able to speak to someone who doesn't judge you"
1. "I don't have a problem"
Whilst it’s great that you feel naturally confident and affirmed in your day to day life, the idea that your mental health is completely perfect is highly unlikely. There are always aspects of our lives that we can improve to have a happier, healthier existence. For example, you may find yourself tired and unmotivated, or irrationally angry, but not even consider these traits related to mental illness. Mental Health charity MIND outlines this here.
As renowned psychologist M. Scott Peck said in his book The Road Less Travelled;
“This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health.” -M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p.16-17.
Therapy and counselling can navigate methods of improving this, or even find the root of why this may be a recurring issue in your life. It’s important to remember that not all therapy involves sitting down and talking about your feelings. Targeted counselling, mentoring or coaching can be beneficial when you don’t feel you have a serious problem, such as work counselling or a more holistic approach.
2. "Therapy is weird"
Anything that can help you to grow and be happier is not weird. In fact, it’s more “weird” to know that you have a problem and not to do anything about it.
As conversations surrounding mental health in mainstream media become more and more frequent, being in therapy or counselling is not the taboo that it once was. As a result, there are more and more types of mental health and wellbeing support on offer, aside from the psychodynamic therapy (discussed below) which people once came to expect. Ultimately, if your peers judge you for improving yourself, they may not be the most positive people to have in your life anyway!
“You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don't figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about."
3. "I can't afford it"
Unfortunately, while there are many subsidised services out there, many people don’t think twice about spending £100-200 a month on going out, to restaurants and partying, yet would not want to invest that same amount into themselves because of many of the preconceptions around therapy itself. This is not to say everyone can afford this type of support because many struggling families can’t.
Whilst in the UK mental health services are available on the NHS (although with very long wait times), this is not the case around the globe and for struggling, individuals and families, spending upward of £40 (or equivalent) a week on therapy is just not an option. This is why at the Legends Report we provide a range of counselling services at very low cost. If you'd like to talk to us about this just contact us on the live chat.
Many workplaces also offer subsidised third-party wellbeing services that you can speak with confidentially.
4. "It won't work for me"
Not every form of counselling and therapy works for everybody. In the same way, the first therapist that you meet might not be a perfect fit. In order to receive the best results, it’s important not to give up after one session and continue to investigate the best route for you.
As a personal example, my first experience of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (explained below) was quite negative and I just felt as though it would never work. However, through perseverance (and persuasion from my family!) I kept going and soon reaped the results. There are a few different methods of therapy that you need to understand in order to make an informed decision. The main two are discussed below:
Talking therapy is most commonly used for treating clinical depression and anxiety, and is based on solutions. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most used form of this in mainstream medical environments, and challenges patients to change negative thoughts into positive ones. Doing this independently can be difficult. Particularly when you’re in a bad place, it can feel weird to force yourself to think positively. However, by having someone to talk you through it, you can develop a deeper understanding of how the process works. Speaking your positive thoughts out loud works wonders too.
After having a panic attack which she compared to “feeling like I was dying”, singer Ellie Goulding started CBT for her anxiety. This helped her turn her irrational thoughts and fears into more realistic and manageable ones - which is especially beneficial in her line of work.
Psychodynamic Therapy is more the sort of therapy that you’ll see on TV or in films. Rather than focusing on the behaviour at first, this form of therapy is root-based and investigates why a person may be experiencing mental health difficulties. It is most commonly used when someone has experienced trauma, such as abuse or a certain life event. This type of therapy recognises why people have certain behavioural patterns, and then tries to alter them (whereas talking therapy only focuses on the latter). This isn’t to say that one form is better than the other - they just have different aims and are best suited to different people.
Singer Demi Lovato is a heartbreaking example of someone who has, thankfully, benefited from psychodynamic therapy. In the public eye, she has struggled with depression, anxiety, bulimia and more recently addiction. In her moving documentary on Youtube, Ms Lovato has credited psychodynamic therapy for helping her to realise that these issues came from her childhood fame and the pressure that came with it.
“If you don’t get the help that you need, sometimes a good heart isn’t enough”
― Ms Lovato's mother in her YouTube documentary Simply Complicated
It should be pointed out that this doesn’t remove all responsibility of behaviour - but it makes the guilt and solutions much more manageable. Miss Lovato now has therapy twice a week in order to maintain her positive coping mechanisms.
“I’ve learnt the key to being happy is telling your truth”
- Demi Lovato
Unfortunately, not all therapists engage in therapy themselves which means many aren’t in a position to empathise with their patients and can only take their patients as far as they have gone in looking inside themselves, as M. Scott Peck says;
“We know the world only through our relationship to it. Therefore, to know the world, we must not only examine it but we must simultaneously examine the examiner. For this reason, psychiatrists are encouraged to receive their own psychotherapy as part of their training and development. Unfortunately, not all psychiatrists respond to this encouragement. There are many who stringently examine the world but not so stringently examine themselves. They may be competent individuals as the world judges competence, but they are never wise.”
- M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, Openness To Challenge
Why You Ought To Seriously Consider Some Form of Counselling & Therapy
Ultimately, although therapy might not be able to fix everything for everyone, it’s a great place to start. Allowing people to recognise their negative behaviours and what may be responsible for them means that they’re less likely to continue, which can only make for calmer and safer communities.
In addition, less people suffering with common mental health issues such as depression means happier relationships, friendships and families - The Office of National Statistics has found that when parents have unaddressed mental health issues, their children are more likely to have them too.
This article has not only looked at the benefits of therapy but also hopefully got some of you thinking about what could work for you. Remember, therapy isn’t a one-stop solution, but it’s a strong start.
A Holistic Approach To Therapy Including Mentoring, Coaching & Counselling
As therapy mainly focus on our mental and emotional health, they can often lack the inspiration and direction people need to achieve more meaning and purpose and tangible goals in their lives. Mentoring (wisdom) and coaching (skills) when combined with counselling and therapy (mental and emotional wellbeing) give a person a holistic approach to change.
A combination of these disciplines can give someone a fundamental understanding that they are as valuable as any other human being and then guides them towards their true potential to see beyond the present challenges.
Through coaching, we learn how to set goals and practically make progress on our chosen path through developing the skills needed to achieve those goals. Negative thoughts can creep in and this is where counselling and therapy can help. The combination of the disciplines of therapy, counselling, mentoring and coaching are all so crucial to living a fulfilled life.
If you’d like to learn more about how this could benefit you or speak with a counsellor please complete the form below or contact us on live chat.
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