You might be wondering if therapy will help you.
Therapy can be a daunting concept, and for some there can be stigma attached to getting help — and to mental illness, itself.
With this in mind, it’s normal if you feel hesitant to try therapy, even if what you might be struggling with is throwing wrench after wrench into your daily plans.
It’s not unusual if you might be wondering if therapy works for everyone.
So does therapy work for everyone? The answer depends on several factors — especially because humans (and experiences) can be unique.
Therapy isn’t a perfect treatment, and there are always exceptions to the rule.
But for the vast majority of people seeking help, therapy is an effective and proven treatment option that can help you recapture control of your brain, life and happiness.
Therapy is a catch-all name for the process of dealing with mental, emotional and mood problems and the mental disorders and mood disorders that cause them.
Typically, however, when we talk about therapeutic types of treatment, what we’re actually talking about is a particular type of therapy where you discuss your thoughts, problems and behaviors with a mental health professional. This form is called talk therapy.
That’s the simplest definition, but the best way to talk about therapy is in a discussion of perspective; therapy is about looking at the right-now problems you’re struggling with through a wider lens, to establish patterns over a longer period of time.
Therapy is a process, and as part of that process, it’s commonly agreed that for most people, therapy will take more than one therapy session. Some types of therapy may have an established timeline, but in many cases therapy is open ended, and only stops when there’s a sense that some resolution has been reached.
Therapists — the people who provide therapy — go by many names, including psychologist and psychiatrist. They may hold a variety of degrees or certifications, but must be a doctor to prescribe medications.
In some very rare cases, therapists must be licensed to practice, which can take years of study and specialization to achieve.
Therapy really is for everyone — and everyone who needs it. There are no age, gender, racial or other restrictions on therapy, and there’s no group of people for whom therapy cannot be a benefit, and no group of people for whom therapy isn’t available.
While therapy is typically conducted with an individual in a one-on-one arrangement, family therapy and couples therapy — and even group sessions — can often be employed and are effective.
Why someone would see a therapist, however, can be more complicated. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, someone might seek behavioral therapy when they struggle with the following:
Overwhelming feelings of sadness or helplessness
Insomnia or oversleeping in chronic or extreme patterns
Difficulty carrying out everyday activities and tasks for work or life
Excess drinking, drug use or other harmful or addictive behaviors
Constant or chronic feelings of worry or anxiousness
Struggles with major life transitions like deaths, divorce or job loss
Behavioral problems in adults or children that interfere with daily activities
Therapy helps people tackle negative feelings, but it can also provide the tools to change patterns that cause negative feelings, which can help with productivity, happiness and relationships.
Perhaps most important, therapy may just be part of the treatment solution. Along with medication and other therapeutic practices, therapy can be an effective piece (but not the entire piece) of a successful treatment plan.
Back to the question: Does therapy work for everyone? Well, there are two ways to answer this question.
The first and most basic answer is that, yes, therapy can be an effective treatment option to many mental illnesses and mood disorders, and regardless of how old or young you are, it’s an option you can put faith in.
But the second answer — which covers the bigger picture — is that therapy might not work for everyone. Some people, for example, might not be able to find a therapist who works well for them. Or maybe someone also needs medication, and so therapy alone might not be the true solution.
We don’t want to get on a soapbox here, but it’s important to note that there is significant research and data showing that therapy changes lives for the better. Unfortunately, however, some people do not get the access they need, or the level of care they deserve.
It’s important to know that help is available. Local community centers and organizations often provide access to support groups or can help point you in the right direction toward care. The National Institute of Mental Health also offers a list of resources and crisis lines, to find free support.
If you're a little nervous about trying therapy, know you're not alone. As mentioned above, many people struggle with the idea of consulting a professional therapist and talking about their mental health conditions.
The truth about therapy, however, is that there's nothing stigma-worthy about the therapeutic process. Quite the contrary: Consulting with a therapist is one of the healthiest things you can do.
Whether you're struggling with a mood disorder like severe depression, working through traumatic life experiences like the death of a loved one, or feeling stress and anxiety affect your quality of life, therapy can often be your answer.
If you're hesitant to sit in a strange room for ongoing treatment and would rather stay home, consider online therapy, which is great for those who want the therapeutic experience to be convenient. Online therapy is an ideal option if you experience social anxiety, too.
Consulting with a mental health professional — if you’re feeling low or anxious or sad or stressed — is always a good idea, and you can see for yourself how therapy works for you.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.