In an ideal world, everyone would have access to mental health care. Most therapists agree that people should initiate therapy much earlier than they feel the need to, and there's a lot of research backing up the benefits of early intervention. Nonetheless, there are valid reasons why people tend to wait until a crisis to get in the door. Therapy is a real investment, not just in money and time, but also in mental space. However, if you are fortunate to find a therapist you connect with, it can be one of the most rewarding endeavours.
Therapy is safe harbour when the water gets rough. People typically end or pause therapy once they’re functioning better in their lives. Many return when they encounter significant life changes that create new turbulence or in need of a booster to stay on course. It' reassuring to know that there is always somewhere safe you can land, and that in itself can give you the confidence to take on new challenges.
Therapy is crisis prevention. The best time to work on issues is actually when things are relatively smooth, and we are able to be more present and focused. Therapy is not just for addressing problems, it’s also ongoing assessment of how well you're coping, taking a new lens to old familiar patterns, and developing strategies to handle future stresses. It’s much quicker and cheaper to fix a broken pipe than to renovate a flooded basement. Prevention is always better than repair.
Therapy is life lessons. We learn a lot of things in school, but we are never taught how to have healthy relationships, emotion regulation, the importance of setting boundaries, and a long list of other things crucial to a life well lived. For those who weren't fortunate enough to have great models in their lives, navigating these important life skills can feel like stumbling in a dark room trying to find the light switch. Therapy will help you gain self-awareness, better understand your needs, and ultimately make healthier choices for your life.
Your therapist is a keeper of your personal history. Who you were, who you are, and who you will be are never the same and changes with time. Your therapist is an impartial witness to it all, and can remind you of how far you've come while guiding you towards where you want to be.
Therapy is a form of self-care. We can all benefit from an empathic, nonjudgmental, impartial other to support us through life’s most difficult moments. Self-judgements, such as we should be able to manage things on our own or that our problems doesn't warrant intervention, are powerful internal barriers to receiving help. Pursuing therapy despite these barriers is a brave and radical act of self-compassion.
Read about the most common types of therapy here.