Is Therapy Worth It?

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I was recently evaluating a conversation I had with a friend, about therapy, counselling, the power of meditation and prayer and it occurred to me to do this blog post. So I am writing this from a place some second hand experience, I am writing it both for myself and for someone like this dear friend, who wishes she had bumped into a piece like this, when things peaked for her.

Cambridge dictionary has defined therapy as “treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger, especially after an illness”. Some common therapies include occupational therapy, speech therapy, group therapy, behavioural therapy. For the purpose of this post, I would like to focus on therapies that improve the well being of the mind. There are many instances where one might need the right therapy to unpack and manage events in the past, or the present, to manage stress, or anxiety triggered by events or perhaps chemical imbalances in the body. There can be need for therapy following a new job, a big life change, a bereavement, a divorce, a difficult marriage, anxiety, depression of many kinds.

Life happens sometimes and things get overwhelming, confusing, or we find ourselves in very difficult and disagreeable situations. The power of talking things through and articulating how one feels can never be underestimated. As human beings, our minds play a vital role in how we process things and how our hearts and heads process various situations. Speaking out then can provide tremendous relief, and an avenue to express what exactly is going on, as well as why we are dealing with it in the way that we are.

Although both words (therapy and counselling) are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different. Both attempt to provide opportunities to unpack, discuss and heal, however counselling is usually more short term (6 to 12 weeks) than therapy. Increasingly, people use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with  some eating disorder such as bulimia, depression,  phobias, obssessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to deal with other things such as bereavement, onset of a serious illness, infertility, relationship/marriage issues, loss of a job, retirement, childbirth, professionals use talking therapies to help people who may be affected.

More recently, the use of therapy is becoming increasingly popular, with more people, at least in my immediate circle, considering it. It is as though the rest of the world is finally catching up on a recipe the Americans have had and used for a long time. Remember the inferences and the jokes about shrinks and people dreaming on a couch, being a fad in the US? Well it seems that suddenly, the whole world realises that actually, this is valid treatment that can save lives. So is therapy worth it? I think as with most things in life, the intention and the theory are great, it is finding the appropriate diagnosis and the correct treatment that can be hit or miss. I have to say that not everyone who claims to be a counsellor or a therapist is one, or a good one at that.

My friend who inspired this piece had therapy for six months when she was dealing with certain childhood/growing up problems which had begun to rear their ugly heads as she got older and tried to have a thriving and lasting relationship. According to her, it was worth it, it saved her marriage, saved her job, and made her a better person. Therapy is worth it if one finds the appropriate professional for help. Most countries will have a list of qualified, licensed and certified therapies who are allowed to practice. Additionally, some regions will have independent reviews regarding the therapist in question. I would suggest doing some research before deciding on one. It might also help to discuss needs and problems within the trusted safety net of family and/or friends and your family general practitioner, before the introduction of a professional.

Family doctors, your best friend, your mentor, your neighbour, that trusted colleague, your pastor, a career coach, are great places to start. However, invariably, a trained therapist is always the best place to stop.

Have you ever had therapy or counselling? If not, is it something that you would ever consider?