Mind Your Mind: Why seeking therapy can be the best decision of your life

Despite the stigmas, psychotherapy or other forms of counselling are for people like you and me. It’s for every single human being on this earth who has a valid reason to be unhappy.

As scary as it sounds, seeking therapy can be a rewarding process that will benefit your happiness. Starting therapy or seeking other forms of counselling can be considered a brave choice and an act of self-care that proves you are prioritizing your overall health. If I could say one thing to those considering therapy, it’d be that every therapist has a different approach and perspective, and that therapy consists of much more than telling a stranger about your current issues. Therapists can help you problem solve in all areas of your life, including mental and physical health, time management, relationships and so on.

So why see a therapist?

First off, therapists can help you learn new skills and coping mechanisms. We all have mistaken beliefs, defence mechanisms and fundamental ideals. Therapists can help you challenge the way you see yourself and your life, and help replace unhealthy thinking styles with better ones. When you have not-so-good ways of coping with life, they can show you better ways and then gently push and encourage you to use them.

Second, good therapists will listen without judgment. Contrary to popular beliefs, they aren’t there to give you unsolicited advice or scold you for the ways you’ve been dealing with your life. Would you ever judge a friend who’s just revealed their most intimate secrets? If you think about it, in the therapy setting where people are showing off their most vulnerable selves, there is no place for judgment — only compassion.

Third, it’s a myth that therapists are paid to care. Most of them are genuine people who deeply care about others and will do their best to help you live a healthier, better life. Being in therapy can be your one chance to focus on you and your well-being without needing to think of everyone else.

Although I’m an advocate for therapy and other forms of counselling, I would also advise you not to expect to feel better immediately because you can’t show up feeling confident that this person is going to fix all your troubles. You can’t assume that things are going to change on the spot and then get disappointed when they don’t. Therapy is time-consuming, contains lots of drawbacks and will challenge you on a whole new emotional level.

Keep in mind that although therapy can be life changing, it also requires a whole lot of effort. A good therapist will challenge you while simultaneously respecting your views and showing an infinite amount of patience and empathy. He or she will not be afraid to tell you the truth, but that’s okay because we all need a reality check once in a while.

Lastly, believe me when I say that most therapists want you to feel better. They want you to get pissed off when you need to and cry hard when you need to. They want you to learn how to tolerate intense emotions and process painful past experiences — and they know that both will feel like shit.

Because most of them have incredibly caring eyes and genuinely care about your well-being, they won’t hesitate to tell you what you need and don't want to hear. They aren’t playing games or trying to “fix” you. They have your best interest at heart and they want you to heal. That’s it.

To get support on campus, check out these links SASC, the Wellness Centre and UBC Counselling.