Therapy: A Healthy Habit
Some folks hold fast to the myth that therapy is only for people in crisis, 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.
Watch the video version of this blog here:
7 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, what would you choose? Finances? Health? Work-life balance? My guess is that despite relationships being pretty high up there, for most of us, the actions of tending to them don’t often make the “to-do” 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?
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, 1997). 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 amazing.
“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:
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 today the start of embracing 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:
So many of us feel pressured to make and stick to goals. In the world of social media there seems to be a false perception that everyone has it all together. However, when done in an appropriate way, setting goals can be empowering as we make changes for the better. Seeking therapy during a time of self-improvement 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 goal does not become an unhealthy or destructive habit.
For example, consider the popular goal of losing weight by 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 actually the single most predictive factor for developing an eating disorder. Check in with a therapist before you decide to make any big changes in order to ensure your goals provide you with a happy and balanced life.
5. Therapy helps you get to the core of issues by understanding yourself at a deeper level.
“Using hypnosis was one of the greatest decisions of my life.”Matt Damon
Samara Quintero, LMFT, a certified hypnotherapist writes:
One of the greatest advantages of therapy is that there are a variety of different interventions to increase self-awareness, one of them being hypnotherapy. In my approach, I utilize hypnotherapy to help my clients understand their subconscious minds and get in touch with emotions that might have been ignored or pushed down. By accessing these repressed emotions, we’re able to release those feelings from the body.
Through the process of hypnotherapy, clients often experience a sense of freedom and greater understanding of who they are and what has led to present day unhealthy behaviors. This in turn creates space for self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and most importantly self-love.
So many people suffer from self-defeating behaviors such as procrastination, substance abuse, or toxic relationships and feel unable to release themselves from those patterns. Although in their minds they might rationally “know” what they need to do to change, they haven’t been able to align with that knowing and make lasting change in their lives. Feeling plagued with the question of, “Why do I keep doing the same thing over and over? “or “Why can’t I change?” the only answer might seem like, “There must be something wrong with me.” This thought process begins to create a negative shame cycle in which you try to change, fail, and then engage in negative thoughts for being unable to change.
By utilizing hypnotherapy as a component of a treatment plan, you get the chance to take a deep look within yourself and to identify what is the subconscious barrier that might be getting in the way of your goals. Then you are able to actively work to understand and release those blocks.
6. Therapy teaches you the skills you need to cope with difficult emotions.
“If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken.”Selena Gomez
Dr. Toni Falcone, a licensed psychologist writes:
Emotional Intelligence is a concept that has recently gained a lot of attention that unfortunately isn’t often taught in school. Unlike our IQ, which remains relatively stable throughout our life, our emotional intelligence, or EQ can be developed and strengthened over time with the right guidance, education, and practice.
Therapy teaches you the skills needed to cope with difficult emotions, increase self-awareness, relate to others in a more helpful way, and communicate effectively. Through the use of skill-based interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and the practice of Mindfulness, therapy can teach you the skills needed to manage painful emotions in a helpful, not harmful way.
Skill building in therapy can help improve your relationships with others, make better life choices, conquer fears, and build your emotional intelligence. Therapy helps you to look at your thoughts, interpretations, and decisions; find the thinking traps that are keeping you stuck; and break the unhealthy or unhelpful patterns preventing you from the life you want to be living.
Our emotional health is just as important as our physical health, yet so often taking time to care for our emotional well-being is the last thing on our to do list. Through working with a skilled therapist, you can learn tips and techniques to turn painful emotions or experiences into motivators for success.
7. 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, J.J., & Levenson, R.W. (1997) Hiding feelings: The acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107(1), 95-103.