Deciding to seek out mental health therapy is not always an easy one. It could be something you’ve considered for years but never felt comfortable enough to act on. There are many barriers preventing people like yourself from seeking the help they need – whether real or imagined. Just finding a therapist can be challenging enough, but often people feel their issues aren’t severe enough to deserve the attention. The many misconceptions about therapy can also make it hard to commit.
If you are struggling to take that first step towards mental health counseling, push these barriers out of your mind. Let’s focus on the benefits and the positive outcomes of therapy instead. Through therapy, you have the potential to achieve your wildest dreams, thanks to a certified professional rooting for your from your corner.
And before you say that talking to someone isn’t going to benefit your situation, consider what David D. Burns, the author Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and professor at Stanford University School of Medicine said. In an interview for Psychology Today he clearly defined the role of counseling: “Therapy is not to ‘talk about’ things, but to change the person’s life, and to relieve suffering, such as depression, anxiety, or relationship problems.” 
Consider the personal change you are seeking. How can mental health therapy help you achieve these goals? It would be impossible to cover every single benefit of counseling – as everyone gets something slightly different out of it – but the highlight reel of benefits demonstrates the possibilities. Following the seven benefits of mental health therapy, we’ll hear from David D. Burns again, who explains the single most important benefit to all therapy, no matter what issue you are dealing with.
1. Keeping Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in CheckI
According to the most recent numbers from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue, experienced by roughly 1 in 13 people globally. There are also 322 million people around the world who have depression. But despite the widespread experience of these health issues, less than 40 percent of people seek help. 
If you have one or both of these mental health issues, you’ll know how it places a significant strain on your relationships, your professional life, and daily function. The symptoms are often debilitating, and it’s frustrating (if not impossible) to push through them on your own.
Did you know that cognitive therapy is just as useful for the treatment of depression as medication? Some studies even suggest it’s more effective and the relief longer-lasting than conventional SSRIs.
In a study exploring the benefits of therapy versus a traditional antidepressant (and a placebo), nearly 60 percent of people getting therapy had a positive outcome after 16 weeks of treatment. Therapy was slightly more beneficial than the antidepressants and much more helpful than the placebo. Research also similarly supports therapy for anxiety disorders.
While success rates and specific treatment plans vary from one person to the next, the data confirms that counseling is a useful tool for keeping the symptoms of chronic depression and anxiety at bay. 
2. Focus in on Finding Your PurposeI
Not all people seek out therapy to manage a mental health diagnosis or historical trauma. If you feel like you are only floating through life, adrift without a purpose, counselors are specializing in helping you find the direction again. If you are just coming through a significant transition in life or have felt adrift for a while, therapy can offer a helpful mental compass.
Counselors work with you to answer some of the more significant questions about life, which have so far stumped you. A therapist may help you address the differences in what you want for you, and what others want for you. It could help you define what goals are fundamental, and the reason why. Furthermore, a professional will help design specific steps to achieve these dreams.
A therapist is never going to dictate your purpose to you, but they are well equipped to guide you to find it yourself. Through guided exercises and skill development, you’ll have the tools to clarify purpose, and find meaning.
3. Making a Successful Transition through Challenging Period
Life-altering transitions can be isolating, and in some cases traumatic. Some examples of transformations worthy of a little counseling include major career changes (promotions, hiring, firing, etc), marriages and divorces, children, or the death of a loved one. How do you learn to live alone? How do you learn to live in sobriety? How do you cope with the stress of the new job?
The transition can trigger many emotions, including anxiety, irritability, frustration, fear, and uncertainty. In some cases, a shift may even trigger the onset of depression, anxiety, or substance dependence. Usually, transitions are very personal. You are the only one feeling it, experiencing it, living it – and it can feel incredibly lonely and isolating.
Part of the benefit of seeking counseling during this time is to have someone on your team, to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation so common during these life-changing events. But as David D. Burns said, counseling isn’t just about having some to talk to (although that helps), it’s about relieving suffering. A certified counselor is going to help you get through the transition positively and healthily.
4. Learn Emotional Intelligence and Skills
Did you learn about emotional intelligence in school? Unless you went to school to become a therapist, this was a lesson most of us missed. Emotional intelligence includes three essential skills, which can help us navigate relationships with others, and continue our personal growth.
The three skills include, “emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and cheering up or calming down other people.” 
Therapy is essentially Emotional Intelligence 101. Using different therapeutic approaches counselors help you understand your own emotions (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Once you know yourself better, you’ll learn to understand others. If you’ve ever wondered why your partner, mother, son, or coworker reacts the way they do, counseling is a great way to develop a better understanding.
5. Improve and Deepen Your Relationships
Counseling isn’t just about you. Does that surprise you? Even if you are the only one going to therapy, it’s very likely everyone else in your life will also reap the benefits. As you overcome the symptoms of anxiety, depression, addiction or trauma – the positive outcomes trickle down into your relationships.
Depending on your situation, you may also work with a therapist to specifically focus on your relationships whether this means going to couples therapy with your spouse, or seeking counseling by yourself.
Unfortunately, none of us receive a relationship Handbook when we graduate high school, but therapy helps fill this information void. Counseling gives you skills to cope with frustrating interactions, improve communication, and deepen the intimacy with the ones you love.
6. Break Out of the Lingering Effects of Trauma
Emotional, mental, or physical trauma affects everyone is very different ways. The repercussions of a traumatic event may not make themselves known until years later, making it hard to understand sudden changes in behavior or mental health. Therapy is uniquely designed to address trauma, to process it in a safe environment, and to help survivors get through it in a healthy way.
If you find yourself feeling guilt, anger, fear, shame or any number of other negative emotions, consider speaking with a therapist to help get to the bottom of them. While people often bury their experience of trauma, as a way to move forward, this can have lingering repercussions on your ability to move forward. Trauma therapy helps you to address the experience in a safe space, with a trained professional.
7. Feel Better (About Everything)
Feeling better post-therapy session is an obvious benefit, but probably one of the most important. People don’t go to therapy for any other reason than to feel better. If you are looking to get through a bout of depression, to maintain a sober living, to decrease stress levels, to improve relationships – you are looking to feel better than you did before.
Counselors use many different approaches to help you transition, to teach you new skills, or to address your emotions in a new way. No matter their professional approach, at the end of the day their only goal is to help you find purpose, contentment, and comfort.
If we circle back to the words of David D. Burns, He tells us that the role of a therapist isn’t to be an all-powerful-spiritual leader showing you the light. A therapist is a guide, to help move you towards your own solutions. He says, “I see my role as a hired helper, and the patient is my boss. The patient describes the problem she or he wants help with. But when the patient really comprehends what was going on at that moment in his or her life, and suddenly learns how to turn that problem around, they often experience a kind of enlightenment…” 
The one true benefit of mental health therapy is finding the “turning point” where you suddenly find yourself on the other side of your issues – whatever they may be. If it’s depression, anxiety, relationship issues, abuse, or simply feeling stuck, therapy is about getting through the challenge and out to the other side.