Modern mental health counseling has been formally used in the United States since the early 1950s. Other therapeutic modalities, however, have been around since ancient Grecian times. In every culture on the planet there are different forms of healing practitioners – from shamans and spirit healers, to counselors and psychologists.

Mental Health Counseling has taken off in the United States, despite mass backlash and skepticism due to the age-old stigma of asking for help and accepting professional guidance. The profession has taken off and grown substantially in the last 20 years alone due to its positive and often life-changing effects.

So what are the benefits of therapy?

A safe space to vent.

The therapeutic value of being able to speak honestly and openly about one’s personal experiences is unparalleled. Even if one has close friends and family with whom there is a level of intimacy and comfort, there is nothing quite like being able to be completely unfiltered with a stranger who is not personally invested in your life and relationships.

The ability to process.

Just like a doctor cannot treat themselves, human beings cannot think their way out of their emotional pain, at times, without the guidance and direction of a therapist. Sometimes we are unable to see our own patterns, and the ability to process through our experiences in therapy can illuminate core processes and wounds within us that may not have ever come to the surface if we did not have a strong rapport with a therapist.

Preventative health.

You don’t have to be sick to get well. Emotional wellness is priceless. Often, we tell ourselves that we don’t have to seek therapy unless it’s really “that bad.” But how bad do we need it to get? What have we been normalizing? Our anxiety, depression, fear, shame, trauma, grief, relationship dysfunction, and lack of self-esteem may have become inadvertently camouflaged into our day to day lives. We don’t have to hit any kind of “rock bottom” before seeking professional support. Our bottom, in actuality, can be when we finally stop digging.

Deconstructing barriers.

According to the Persian poet Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Therapy can be a healing process in which you and your therapist collaboratively take a sledgehammer to every barrier that is blocking you from your goals: self-esteem, healthy relationships, a promising career, confidence, and so on.

A new pair of glasses.

We are often flooded with opinions and advice from people that we know. Who else would offer us guidance? Therapy is like coming up for fresh air, hearing the observations of someone who has not been biased and clouded by a personal relationship.

Cope with Life’s Challenges

Life can be challenging enough without trying to cope with anxiety, depression, fear, grief, shame or trauma. Although talking to family or close friends about it can help, you may need guidance on how to adjust in your everyday life. Sharing your emotions and challenges with a therapist can help lift the weight off your shoulders.

When you have someone you can talk to about everyday problems that occur in your life, it allows you to focus on living it and feel positive, rather than worrying each day. For example, if you have recently come out, you may find it hard to cope with the different emotions you may be experiencing. Seeking therapy for LGBTQ challenges can make it easier for you to move forward in your life and prevent you from feeling alone or isolated.

Authentic self-care.

Self-care is not just taking bubble baths and wearing a face mask. It’s allowing yourself to step into the proverbial arena of discomfort; of getting vulnerable, of letting yourself cry, of processing your past wounds, and of getting messy in your emotions to pave a way to a more stable and healthy quality of life.

When you invest in therapy, you’re investing in yourself. It’s not always easy and it’s seldom the most comfortable experience, but the payoff is a life with yourself that you can be proud of. It’s having clarity, having peace of mind, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That is the most priceless benefit of therapy.