FAQ: What is therapy?

There are a lot of variations on the process of therapy, but at its core therapy is working with a licensed mental health professional to promote personal development, learn coping skills, and address mental health conditions and/or trauma. Each therapist has their own definition of therapy depending on their philosophy or treatment approach. The American Counseling Association, a professional association for licensed therapists developed a definition of counseling (often used interchangeably with therapy) as:

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

American Counseling Association

In these definitions you may see that therapy is an often thought of as an ongoing relationship and process aimed towards achieving mental health and wellness. The therapeutic relationship is the essential factor for change which is why you often hear clients and therapists alike talking up the importance of finding the right fit.

Therapy is a healing, and often challenging, process but it has a lot of benefits to those who take the journey. “But what does it do?!” is something I hear periodically and is often a barrier to accessing treatment. While it’s hard to put into words, here are some thoughts about how therapy can help you.

Counseling offers you a safe space to explore the full range of your thoughts and emotions.

I often hear clients say things in counseling that they’ve never been able to say aloud before. This, in my opinion, is one of the most profound experiences in therapy. To be fully seen and heard is a scary thought for many of us. Therapy offers you a safer space to explore and express all your thoughts and feelings. The context of the professional relationship guarantees you the safety of confidentiality and comfort of knowing that your therapist’s only motivation is to help you move forward in your life. Whether that means helping you through bouts of depression, anxiety or panic or healing from deep familial wounds or trauma, your therapist’s primary goal is to empower you to move forward. Therapy offers a safe space to say all the things that you’re thinking in a nonjudgmental, contained environment where you can also learn new ways of engaging with the world.

Therapy offers a safe space to explore and feel your emotions in ways it can be hard to outside of the safe, confidential space.

Therapy can help you gain focus and clarity.

Along with offering you the safe space to more fully explore your thoughts and emotions, therapy can often help clients gain focus and clarity.  By working with a therapist, you gain more objective insight from a supportive professional who can help you connect the dots, or put together pieces of a puzzle that you’ve long struggled to figure out.For instance, therapy may help you gain insight into why you find yourself getting into relationships with the same types of people. Your therapist may help you understand the level of anger or disappointment you feel towards someone in your life that you feel has failed you. Therapy may help you unlearn negative eating patterns and enable you to make better choices moving forward.

Counseling can help you better care for yourself and others.

One of the most powerful products of counseling, in my opinion, is that it offers structured time for self-care. Many of the clients I work with struggle with taking care of themselves but are excellent care takers of others. This often leads to a great imbalance in relationships, leading to feelings of unworthiness and codependency. Spending time talking about your own journey can help you better focus on self-care. By becoming a better caregiver for yourself, you actually learn the skills to be a more effective and sustainable caregiver by those you cherish most.

Therapy provides skills for taking on new challenges in the future.

Sometimes we know the ways in which the pain and hurt from the past has impacted us. Therapy offers a space where you can actually learn and implement new skills for the future. While working with a therapist you can develop personalized coping skills to deal with the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis. You may also learn better ways to cope with ongoing mental health issues that can be disruptive to living the life that you desire.

If you would like to learn more about Viva, or work with one of our therapists, you can contact us by filling out our new client form.

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Viva provides clients with individualized, holistic, and culturally competent care. We focus on working with the whole person and firmly believe that a healthy lifestyle looks different on everyone.

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