by Brent Hearn •
“Seeing a counselor.” “Going to therapy.” “Seeking help.”
Though the stigma of uttering these phrases aloud has lessened over the years, it can still lead to hesitancy when it comes to finding a therapist. There are many who wouldn’t think twice about going to see a doctor for a sinus infection but who would balk at the prospect of being treated by a therapist.
It’s a shame for anyone to suffer needlessly when help is available; that’s why it’s so important to normalize seeking treatment. Here are just a few reasons why talking to a therapist can be beneficial to your health.
It Can Ease Emotional Pain
We’ve probably all heard it—or some variation of it—at some point. It may have been a friend who said it, it may have been a coworker, or it may have been your Aunt Sharon:
“Talk about it; it’ll make you feel better!”
Well, it turns out Aunt Sharon was right. A brain imaging study conducted in 2007 by psychologists at UCLA found that verbalizing one’s emotions can actually change the brain’s response to them. (Writing about them can have a similar effect.) Labeling an emotion—anger, for instance—and discussing it can help to make those feelings less intense.
It Can Reduce the Symptoms of Other Ailments
Psychological distress can manifest itself in other conditions, including (but not limited to) stomach aches, headaches, insomnia, ulcers, and heart issues. Treating the root causes of mental distress through psychotherapy may help to prevent or treat these and other physical conditions that can affect one’s quality of life.
It Can Foster Positive Change in Future Generations
For some, the idea of discussing one’s feelings is a foreign concept. Many people weren’t raised in a household that encouraged this kind of openness, and the argument can be made that the normalization of this “emotional silence” has caused untold damage, as the repression of emotions can lead to a host of unhealthy coping mechanisms.
For patients who have children, modeling healthy approaches to dealing with mental health issues can reap rewards for the next generation. Those children will be more likely to pass those healthy approaches on to their children; it’s a positive outcome that can pay dividends in perpetuity—both for those directly affected and for society at large.
For many, deciding to see a therapist can seem like a huge step, and there are any number of ways to talk themselves out of it. I don’t have time. I’ll do it one day. It’s going to cause too much financial stress. All my energy is spent taking care of others; I don’t have time to take care of myself. And while some of these concerns are certainly understandable, the benefits are undeniable. If seeking treatment from a therapist can ease emotional pain, help address physical ailments, and provide benefits to future generations, it’s at least worth looking into, right?