Key Takeaways

  • People go to therapy for all sorts of reasons. But typically, it’s because they’re facing a mental or emotional challenge that’s affecting their life in significant ways.
  • Therapy is a highly effective tool for managing mental health concerns like depression or anxiety. It can also help you manage stress from major life events and strengthen your well-being. 
  • Research shows that therapy is highly effective for most people. For some people, therapy can be as effective as medication, while for others, a combination of treatment options works best.

There are many different reasons to go to therapy. Of course, there are those you’re probably already familiar with. Most people know that therapy can help with anxiety, depression, or relationship challenges. But you don’t need to be in a mental health crisis or on the verge of separating from your partner to benefit from therapy. 

While it can certainly be helpful in those scenarios, therapy can also help you maintain good mental health, strengthen your coping skills, and learn more about yourself. If you’re unsure whether therapy can help you, learning some common reasons that people start therapy can help you decide if it’s right for you.

Three reasons people go to therapy

At the most basic level, people often go to therapy when they’re experiencing an overwhelming personal challenge that they would like a professional to help them navigate. These challenges can take many different forms. They can be mental, emotional, behavioral, or relational. But they’re typically severe enough to impact a person’s functioning in important areas of their life. 

There are many reasons that a person may choose to start going to therapy. But some of the most common reasons include:

1. Managing the symptoms of a mental health condition

Often, people go to therapy to manage the symptoms of a mental health condition. For example, therapy can help treat depression, anxiety, and many other common mental health concerns. Therapy offers valuable support for people managing mental health conditions. It can help them effectively cope with life’s challenges and improve their overall quality of life.

Having a clinical diagnosis is typically required for insurance companies to pay for therapy. Also, your insurance company may limit the number of sessions they’ll cover each year. So if you’re thinking about starting therapy, talk to your insurance provider first so that you understand your benefits. 

2. Adjusting to major life transitions 

Keep in mind that you don’t need to have a mental health condition to enter therapy or to benefit from it. For example, some people go to therapy during or after major life changes or transitions. This might include things like losing a job, moving far from home, grieving a loved one, or being diagnosed with a serious illness. Others might seek couples or family therapy when they’re having challenges in their important relationships. 

3. Investing in self-improvement and personal growth 

Lastly, some people go to therapy to invest in their self-improvement and personal growth. They may simply enjoy the process of self-discovery that therapy can facilitate. Therapy can help you deepen your self-awareness, reduce unwanted behaviors, and learn new ways of responding to stress. These skills can help you learn more about yourself and build greater resilience for life’s inevitable challenges.

Why is therapy important?

Let’s face it: Most of us are very busy. We’re juggling jam-packed schedules and a seemingly endless list of responsibilities in our personal and professional lives. This can make it hard to dedicate time to prioritizing our mental health. But with therapy, you can give yourself a regular opportunity to focus on yourself. 

You can use this time for whatever feels most important to you, and your goals for therapy will probably shift throughout your experience. In making a consistent commitment to addressing whatever mental, emotional, or behavioral issues you’re facing, you can invest in your future well-being and improve your quality of life. 

Does everyone need therapy?

Research shows that many people can benefit from therapy. It can help you strengthen your mental health, reduce unwanted symptoms or behaviors, and act as a preventative support. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about 75% of people who enter therapy experience a reduction in symptoms and improved functioning. 

However, it’s important to acknowledge that, in specific scenarios, therapy can lead to negative outcomes. If you’re concerned about your mental health and uncertain about whether therapy is right for you, there are some things you can do to help you determine the best path forward. These include educating yourself about the process, advocating for yourself if your symptoms don’t get better or you feel uneasy with your therapist, and seeking guidance from an experienced provider.

Does therapy really work?

In short, yes! Recent advances in technology and neuroscience have given us some insight into how life experiences can change our brains. This process is called neuroplasticity, and therapy has been shown to improve brain functioning in some important areas. 

Studies also show that therapy can be as effective or even more effective than medication in treating common mental health concerns like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety.

Tips for making the most of therapy

To make the most of therapy, remember that it’s a partnership between you and your therapist. By taking an active role in the process, you can help shape the outcomes of your experience.  

Here are some tips for making therapy work for you:

  • Consider your goals. You’re the expert on you, and it’s important to let your therapist know what you hope to achieve by working together.
  • Be open to change. Therapy can cause you to question some of your beliefs and challenge old ways of thinking. While it’s completely normal to resist this sometimes, try to keep an open mind and be ready to consider new perspectives
  • Be patient with yourself. Therapy is not a quick fix, and it will probably take some time for you to see meaningful results. But if you feel like you’re not seeing any progress, talk to your therapist so you can brainstorm solutions together.
  • Practice what you learn. Look for ways to apply what you learn in therapy in your daily life. Your biggest “ah-ha” moments won’t necessarily happen within a therapy session. Therapy is more likely to work when you use what you learn in therapy outside of sessions.

Find care with Rula

Whether you’re living with a mental health condition, dealing with a major life transition, or simply want to invest in your personal growth — know that you’re not alone and help is available. 

Rula is here to take the guesswork out of finding the right therapist for you. With our therapist-matching program, you can match with a provider who takes your insurance in under three minutes. And, our network of over 8,000 providers means you can be seen as soon as this week. 

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