Talking can be good medicine. Whether you’re concerned about a difficult relationship, low moods, an overload of stress, or frustrations at work or home—or you’re trying to cope with feelings that just seem overwhelming at times—working with a counselor or therapist can help you make positive changes in your life.
There are many types of counselors, including licensed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Different counselors practice different types of therapy. So it’s smart to talk with several before you begin sessions. Here are some benefits people receive from seeing a counselor:
Gaining relief from depression and other emotional health concerns. Talk therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy—which helps you understand and change thinking patterns that lead to negative emotions—can be especially effective for some people who have depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse problems, difficulty with stress, and more.
Living better with a chronic health condition. Having a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, or cancer can trigger intense emotions and may even increase your risk for depression. Counseling can help you take good care of yourself; cope with the ways that your health may interfere with work, school, or family life; and understand and cope with your feelings. A special kind of therapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, can even help people with sleep problems get a good night’s slumber without medicine.
Feeling more relaxed and less stressed-out. Your therapist can teach you skills and techniques to reduce stress. Even better, you can discover how to recognize situations and responses that lead to stress.
Uncovering and changing self-defeating thoughts. Sometimes, “automatic,” inaccurate, and self-defeating thoughts that you barely notice can affect your emotions, your relationships, and your daily experiences. For instance, you may not think you’re very good at your job or at making friends, when in reality, you are. A counselor can help you pay attention to these thoughts and habits, challenge them, and replace them with more accurate and positive thinking that will help you achieve your goals and lead a happier life.
Talking about problems and tough situations in a safe, confidential place. Your therapist can help you dive more deeply into experiences and situations that are painful, giving you emotional support for your journey.
Building resilience and happiness. Talk therapy’s not just about negative emotions. Thanks to the positive psychology movement, your therapist may also help you better appreciate and use your “signature strengths” (such as creativity, perseverance, kindness, or curiosity). He or she may also help you boost happiness with techniques such as remembering three good things that happened to you each day, finding ways to grow in difficult situations, and finding healthy ways to let go of grudges, resentments, and bitter memories.
Communicating better and enjoying closer relationships. Wish you could get along better with family members, feel closer to your spouse or children, or make closer friends? In talk therapy, you can take a closer look at important relationships. Your therapist can help you develop new communications and social skills so that you can express emotions and better connect with the people in your life.