To some, therapy seems pointless. Why would I pay someone to listen to me when I can vent to my friends, family, partner, or a random stranger for free?
Here are 4 benefits of seeing a therapist:
1. Therapists are trained listeners.
Therapists spend a significant amount of time (YEARS in fact) listening to people and learning how to elicit information to help others gain insight. This is a fancy way of saying a therapist can help you understand or see a situation, feeling, or relationship in a way that you may not have thought about before. People are excellent at denying, hiding, or minimizing their own and others’ emotions. Sometimes you do things without even knowing why you do them. A therapist is trained to listen to you and can help you make sense of something and, more importantly, they may also be attuned to what you are not saying.
2. Your therapist doesn’t have any skin in the game.
I’m going to venture a guess and say that you are likely to confide or vent to someone you like. And, chances are, that person likes you too. This may be awesome for your relationship with that person. However, it can be challenging for people to give you their honest opinion about something without being worried that you might take it the wrong way, dismiss it, or take it too personally. Your well-meaning friend probably doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Furthermore, they may be biased by their own opinions or experiences with that certain situation or person you are venting about.
This is what I mean when I say that person has “skin in the game.” They may risk upsetting you or alienating you which may adversely impact your relationship with them or others. Your therapist doesn’t have any skin in the game. A therapist isn’t involved in your personal life. In fact, many in the mental health profession are not allowed to have two relationships with you (i.e., a personal and professional relationship) because it blurs the lines and can make it difficult for that person to help you with whatever brought you to therapy in the first place.
Your therapist also isn’t (hopefully) just trying to appease you. A therapist is invested in your personal growth but isn’t just trying to make you happy or tell you what you want to hear. A healthy therapeutic relationship may involve hearing difficult feedback or learning things about yourself that may challenge you. This may not always be fun but it can be a good thing. Since your therapist isn’t just trying to make you happy, you will have many opportunities to grow and explore how you feel and think about certain aspects of your life and your experiences.
3. Therapists keep what you say confidential (with certain limitations).
I don’t know about you, but I know that anytime I tell a friend or family member “don’t tell anyone” and follow it with some sort of secret, there is a good chance that this person may tell someone else. Why is that? Secrets are tough to keep. It isn’t because people in our lives want to break our confidence. Sometimes, people in your everyday life have a hard time making sense of what you tell them. It helps to have someone to talk to about heavy topics. That’s understandable. However, this inadvertently can undermine trust and your confidence in your relationship with that person.
Therapists are required to keep most of what you say confidential. If they need to speak to someone about something you said in a session, it’s likely another mental health professional. Your therapist is required to protect your information and identity and not break your confidence in most cases.
Disclaimer: Your therapist may be required to report information in certain situations. This usually involved situations where someone is in danger, poses an imminent threat, or there is reported abuse. A therapist usually covers limitations of confidentiality in the first session. If not, feel free to ask your therapist when confidentiality would need to be broken.
4. Unlike other people in your life, therapists love to hear you talk about yourself.
They literally encourage it. Where else do you get such undivided attention without feeling like a jerk for NOT asking about the other person? It may feel odd at first. It can definitely feel like a one-way relationship and that’s okay. Therapy is time for you to work on you. You don’t have to worry about your therapist. A therapist is there to help you. Many people count therapy as part of their self-care routines.
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