Therapy: The New Healthy Habit
Some folks hold fast to the myth that therapy is for crazies, a sign of weakness or neediness. This misunderstanding couldn’t be further from the truth. People from all walks of life reach out to professionals for help including the well-adjusted, successful, wealthy and famous.
Think about all the habits we try to create in order to keep ourselves healthy. We go to the dentist not only when we have a cavity or need a root canal, we also go for cleanings to prevent dental problems. Just like we exercise and eat balanced meals to keep our bodies healthy, we need to take action to protect our most precious asset, our mental health.
“My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth.”Kerry Washington
The Psychology Group team got together to tell you about a few benefits of therapy (and other psychological services) and why you should make talking to us one of your healthy habits this year.
5 benefits of making therapy a habit:
1. Therapy helps us improve our relationships – even individual therapy.
“We don’t believe in The One. We don’t believe in the fairytale. We don’t believe that you can meet someone and you have a perfectly matching personalities. We are opposites and it has taken a tremendous amount of work and therapy for us to coexist.” Dax Shepard on his marriage to Kristen Bell
Kristina Fecik, LMFT, relationship expert writes:
If I were to ask you what your top three priorities are for the new year, what would you choose? Finances? Health? Work-life balance? My guess is that despite relationships being pretty high up there, for most of us, they wouldn’t appear on our resolutions list. I write this because even though relationships are amongst the most valued aspects of one’s life, they are often the least tended to. According to this not-so-surprising survey, eating and exercise habits were two of the most popular areas people wanted to improve.
It’s understandable that we spend a lot of time maintaining our appearance. We do so, oftentimes, to attract a partner. The funny thing is, when that partner appears, we tend to forget that our new relationship also needs to be maintained (and can be). Significant research has been done that shows there actually are ways to maintain a relationship so to keep it strong and long-lasting. Inversely, certain habits also lead relationships to early ends.
A common misconception is that talking to a therapist about a relationship is only necessary when a relationship is in peril. On the contrary, I recommend couples therapy as a preventative measure, to begin before troubles arise. Through learning effective communication skills, ways to better understand your partner’s feelings and tips to better manage challenges, couples can protect the relationship from harm.
So, why not make your relationship a priority this year?
2. Because stuffing our feelings doesn’t work.
“I spent a lot of time avoiding feelings. And now I have no time left for that.” “You know, I just started therapy, I love it, I love it.” Brad Pitt
Dr. Jamie Long, writes:
There have been several psychological studies producing similar results: hiding feelings leads to more stress on the body and/or increased difficulty avoiding the distressing thoughts and feelings (see here, here, and here).
In one study for example, research participants were divided into two groups and shown disturbing medical procedure films while their stress responses were measured (e.g., heart rates, pupil dilation, sweat production). One group was asked to watch the videos while letting their emotions show whereas the second group of subjects were asked to watch the films and act as if nothing were bothering them. And guess what? The participants who suppressed their emotions (acted as if nothing bothered them) had significantly more physiological arousal (Gross and Levenson, 1995). The emotional suppressors may have appeared cool and calm but on the inside stress was erupting!
These types of studies show us that expressing emotions, having words to describe how we feel and facial expressions to emote (yup that means crying) help us regulate our stress response. So in addition to talking to your bestest pals, what better way to express yourself than to talk regularly to a licensed professional?
3. Finding and being your authentic self is awesome.
“It’s a really wonderful thing to be able to talk to someone who doesn’t judge you.” Katy Perry
Terri Finnigan, LMFT, expert therapist for the LGBTQ+ community writes:
The holidays can be a harsh reminder of our “otherness.” It can be incredibly difficult feeling like you’re an outsider in your family, your group of friends, or the culture at large. If you’re a member of a marginalized group – a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a woman in a patriarchal culture, a member of an ethnic minority group, or someone who just feels “other” – the road to feeling safe being your authentic self can be a steep one to climb.
Therapy is often an essential part of healing the feelings that “otherness” can bring, and transforming your life into the one that was meant for you. Research shows that people who work hard to live authentically report feelings of happiness and a sense of psychological well-being. With regular therapy, you can make 2019 the year of your authentic self!
4. It teaches you the (sometimes not-so-obvious) differences between healthy and unhealthy habits.
“For women, we’re taught to eat less until we disappear. And trained to believe that if you don’t look like everyone else, then you’re unlovable…I think it’s good to see somebody saying: I have a belly. And I have cellulite. And I still deserve love.” Amy Schumer
Dr. Tali Berliner, an eating disorder specialist writes:
The new year is a time for change – out with the old and in with the new! It is also a time when people feel pressured to make and stick to a New Year’s resolution. Making a resolution can feel empowering as we create new goals for ourselves and make changes for the better. Seeking therapy during this time can be very helpful in order to have guidance and support in evaluating what changes to make and to set realistic expectations of the process. Meeting with a therapist can also be important to ensure that an innocent resolution does not become an unhealthy or destructive habit.
For example, consider the popular New Year’s resolution of going on a diet. Research shows that dieting can be a gateway to disordered eating habits, an eating disorder, and weight gain. Researchers now know that dieting is the single most predictive factor for developing an eating disorder. Check out the informative video from co-author of Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole, MS RDN CEDRD-S
5. Psychological testing can pinpoint areas of strength and weaknesses.
“Asking for help is always a sign of strength.” Michelle Obama
Dr. Noreen Commella, an expert in psychological assessment writes:
Perhaps someone has mentioned that you or your child may benefit from completing a psychological or psychoeducational evaluation. There are a variety of reasons a physician, therapist, or school may recommend an evaluation.
Psychological and psychoeducational evaluations provide a comprehensive and dynamic understanding of the individual being assessed. Depending on the nature of the referral, a psychological evaluation can help clarify a diagnosis and treatment plan, provide insight about personality traits, or determine intellectual and/or occupational propensities.
A psychoeducational evaluation provides a pattern of strengths and weaknesses with regard to verbal and non-verbal intelligence, learning, memory, attention, behavior, and social-emotional functioning. The ultimate goal of testing is optimizing your or your child’s learning potential through appropriate educational placements and accommodations.
The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale is a concierge, boutique therapy practice with top rated therapists providing heartfelt mental health counseling & life coaching. We specialize in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, LGBTQ+ Affirmative therapy, relationships and psychological testing.
Gross JJ, Levenson RW. Emotion elicitation using films. Cognition and Emotion. 1995;9:87–108.