Why Literally Everyone Can Benefit From Therapy
Don’t think of it as a phase or a reaction to difficulty. Think of it as an act of kindness
There’s a meme that I encounter every now and then that reads: People go to therapy to deal with the people in their lives that won’t go to therapy.
It reminds me of a conversation I often have with various friends. We’ll be dissecting some relationship conflict or family crisis, and inevitably reach the same exasperated conclusion: Why doesn’t everyone just understand they should go to therapy! Life would be so much easier! And look at the evidence!
Of course, it’s true that therapy isn’t as financially accessible as it should be, and that many of the challenges we face today are things that therapy simply can’t solve. But we know that therapy, in its varied forms, works for addressing everything from acute trauma to more general patterns and attachment styles. As a beautiful account of one transformative therapeutic relationship in the digital magazine Aeon put it: “Two people sit in a room and talk, every week, for a set amount of time, and at some point one of them walks out the door a different person, no longer beleaguered by pain, crippled by fear or crushed by despair. Why? How?”
Perhaps because it replaces something we’ve been missing.
Therapy can be proactive, not just reactive
As with all forms of self-healing and growth, there is a bit of mystery surrounding the transformations therapy can bring — which may be one reason why some people are so resistant to trying it. After all, it’s hard to explain precisely why, when a therapist interrupts a passing comment with a simple “tell me more about that,” a client may begin to disentangle a web that they might otherwise spend the next decade ensnared in.
Emily Anhalt, Psy.D, is a clinical psychologist and the co-founder of Coa, an online mental health platform that offers a therapy-matching service as well as live therapist-led emotional fitness classes. She notes that there’s a difference between the idea that everyone needs therapy and that everyone would benefit from it.