Have you ever thought about going to therapy? Or do you already go to therapy? There are so many physiological benefits to having a therapist. Everyone, specifically teens, should have an unbiased, helpful person to go to and talk about the stress of living life. As humans, it’s natural that we look at things like therapy and don’t want to try it out, even if we know we are suffering or having a hard time, because of stereotypes, and stigma in our heads and look past and forget about the benefits that can help us.
Let’s start by listing some of the benefits most people know about therapy. Therapy is advertised that if you go, you’ll learn to be happier and to relieve yourself from depression, anxiety, trauma, and emotions such as anger, stress,
or sadness. These can all be true sometimes, but what else can we get out of therapy? Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Chris Chance has many techniques and knowledge about how people can see better versions of themselves, de-stress, and shift our mindsets. “I find often people are surprised at how much they can improve their lives just by making some simple shifts in how they take care of themselves emotionally,” she said. For example, Dr. Chance says that, “perhaps choose to shame [yourself] less [and] to adopt a gentler voice when we make a mistake, so instead of scolding ourselves, we create a ‘best friend on our shoulder’ to say encouraging things and let that voice guide us instead of criticism and negativity.” Taking this advice and making these few changes in your life can help dramatically.
Heather Clegg (‘22) elaborates on the fact that “[therapy has] helped me better manage my emotions in day-to-day life. If something traumatic happens, I go and learn how to manage my reaction to it. Going to therapy has helped me gain a better perspective on how I can handle things in my life.”
From the fifth graders in middle school, to the seniors in high school, all the way up to the senior citizens, everyone experiences stress in all sorts of ways. One of the best ways to deal with our stress is to talk about it, make a plan, and move through it with support, not all alone. Clegg explains how in recent life events, such as getting back to school, senior year starting, applying to college, etc. that “[my therapist] was able to help me with better time management and seeing how I could better support myself and my stress.” Clegg, along with so many others experienced that neverending stress and felt like she just had no way to escape from the workload that daunts her and just builds every day.
Even if you aren’t experiencing the emotions mentioned before, it can still be beneficial. According to Dr. Chance, “psychotherapy helps a lot of people increase self-awareness and often people go to psychotherapy and see a psychotherapist once they have a lot of symptoms. I wish people would be aware that you don’t have to have to wait to see those interemotional patterns or things to get in your way of being able to be calm and mindful with decision making. In general, awareness of our strengths, weaknesses, and challenges can really help us have a smoother, more resilient path in life.” Making ourselves aware of mindfulness and talking with someone about the emotions we are going through can really help us self-reflect and look inward, which isn’t something we always have the opportunity to do in our daily lives.
What Justin Partis (‘23) has taken away from his time with his therapist is that, “you learn ways to destress about things going on in our life, but you also learn about yourself in the process. You learn how your brain works, how to manage things that you are experiencing, and you learn to see yourself clearer in life by using the skills from therapy.” Therapy can help with not only stress, but as Partis explains, learning about yourself and how you work, so when moving forward you know what to do to calm yourself and make better decisions.
We all know what that stigma of “going to therapy” is. Generally, when someone says they go to therapy, we think that they have trauma, anxiety, or depression. We think they’re unstable or don’t have their life together, when in reality, people are going for many reasons, as was just mentioned above. This stigma can then be scary and can make people look away from therapy. Dr. Chance explains that “I think part of the ‘stigma’ of seeking mental health support exists because of this false dichotomy that people who go to therapy are ‘mentally ill,’ and people who don’t are ‘metally healthy.’” For a lot of people, we understand that it’s okay to seek help, but there’s always that voice in the back of our heads that tells us not to go because we fear what society will think of us.
Partis has been going to therapy for a few years on and off. Through this, he says that he has been able to “learn how to use tactics not only to benefit yourself at the time, but use them later in life and stay less stressed about things.” Partis has been able to take the stigma of therapy and throw it away and he has learned many ways to help himself. “The stigma sucks and you think people will care, but you move past it because in the long run you’re only helping yourself,” Partis added.
So, let’s recap. When we move past the stigma of “going to therapy” and we seek help on things in our lives, we can have great benefits. “I think everyone needs therapy. I consider myself a pretty mentally stable person, I’m not a wreck or anything, and I still think people who are “mentally stable” or “normal” should go to therapy because everyone can benefit from it, even if you don’t think you need it. It’s helpful and helps you gain introspective,” said Clegg.
Artwork by Hannah Muessig