Before you decide you’re ready for therapy, take some time for personal reflection. The American Psychological Association advises a time to consider seeing a therapist is when something interferes with some part of life causing distress, particularly when:
If you’re experiencing any of the following feelings or emotions to the measure that they interfere with life, therapy can reverse things and get you back on a healthy track.
Mind Body & Spirit specializes in individual, couples, and family therapy.
In the case of individual therapy, the key to your success is the relationship between you and your therapist — which is formed through talking since individual therapy is a safe space to explore and contemplate feelings, concerns, any and all thoughts. Unlike family or couples therapy, individual therapy is centered solely on you. This allows for a more detailed and deeper understanding of your circumstances, issues and more time for building coping strategies to help you manage difficult situations. Individual therapy aims to inspire change and better quality of life through a combination of self-awareness and self-exploration.
Individual therapy can be effective in:
We all know romantic relationships can be hard work and much like our car, can require regular maintenance to keep it in good shape and running well. When a problem surfaces, it’s always best to have it looked at and perhaps repaired right away – to not let it get worse and to avoid a bigger problem down the road. While you can do some maintenance and repairs yourselves, couples therapy guided by a licensed professional may be the best for the relationship. Couples therapy is emotionally focused and aimed to improve interpersonal dynamics and relationship satisfaction while reducing friction and conflict between a couple.
An American Association of Marriage and Family study determined that over 97% of surveyed couples got the help they needed from couples therapy. In addition, 93% of couples said therapy gave them more effective tools for dealing with conflict.
Commonly cited benefits by couples include:
When families face obstacles that appear too high to overcome on their own, a family therapist can be effective in helping the family get unstuck and move things forward. As summed up by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a family therapist can:
Unlike how with individual therapy treatment is for just one person — family therapy involves multiple people and focuses on the set of relationships that comprise the family unit. Family therapy can be effective in:
We understand acknowledging emotions and feelings can be difficult, make us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable – or may be something we simply don’t know how to do. Know that in speaking with a therapist, exploring feelings is very important and can form the heart of a therapy session.
When you bottle up and suppress emotions, whether it’s sadness, anger, frustration or grief, they can overwhelm you, eventually harming your mental and physical health. Regardless of the reason, suppressed feelings can manifest themselves in escapist behavior (like excessive drinking and eating junk food). When you refrain from expressing negative emotions, you’re not shedding them from your life – you’re simply storing them further back in your head to build and build. Bottle up your emotions and you become a shaken can of soda. You can keep the suppressed emotions stored for a long time, but eventually, you will explode, with all those bottled up emotions pouring out.
A therapist is going to help you develop a skill set to enable you to process feelings and past events, which will help keep them from resurfacing down the line in the form of anger, depression,or emotional distress. Our approach and therapies are generally rooted on open conversations, streams of consciousness, and neutral exchanges. Effective emotional processing requires mindfulness — or personal awareness of your feelings and emotions without judging yourself for having them. So even if you’re unfamiliar with releasing and sharing your emotions, know that we’re here to support and guide you along your journey.
Expressing your thoughts out loud, as opposed to keeping them to yourself, allows you to contemplate in a deeper way. Simply talking and saying what is on your mind to another person will help you consider your thoughts in a more realistic way and gain a more complete understanding of how they impact your life. Your therapist may also offer a new perspective, or insight that you’ve not considered. Be aware our minds commonly dramatize worst-case scenarios left to our own devices. But by exploring your thoughts and feelings with a therapist they are challenged and ‘grounded’. A voice of prudence is helpful in realizing there’s no cause for worry.
When you are experiencing intense emotions — particularly anxiety, fear, or aggression — your fight or flight response system takes control, determines if something is threatening and a response necessary, and then places that information in your memory so you can recognize the threat in the future. When overwhelmed or stressed, this part of your brain can take control overriding more logical thinking.
Research indicates that putting your emotions into words — a process called “affect labeling” — can reduce your fight or flight response system’s ability to take control when you encounter upsetting things or experience intense emotions.
This is how over a series of therapeutic sessions where you are speaking to your therapist, you can become less stressed from feelings you experience and things you encounter. For example, if you got stuck in an elevator for even just a few minutes, using an elevator afterward could be emotionally overwhelming. But as you talk through your experience, process what happened by putting your feelings into words, you will develop the ability to apply more logical thinking when encountering elevators and use them again without feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re just feeling stuck and can’t shake a looming sense that you’ve lost touch with who you are or the career path you’ve been pursuing isn’t what you want after all. Often When our circumstances change, we may struggle with redefining our purpose and can feel unfulfilled as a result. Feeling a lack of purpose or little direction can affect all aspects of your life, leading to anxiety, distress, and depression. Setting goals and defining your purpose can instill confidence and help you live a more fulfilled and content life. When life’s got you feeling overwhelmed and depleted, a clear purpose and direction can bring you peace of mind and help restructure obstacles into opportunities for personal growth and renewed motivation.
Because its meaning must resonate with your heart and soul, a purpose in life is determined solely by you. However much of the self-reflection required to arrive at our life’s purpose can be challenging to explore alone and this is where a therapist can be helpful. A therapist is trained to guide you through your journey in identifying your purpose as that path may uncover internal anxieties, fears, and other issues. A therapist can help navigate, and impart to you the skills to overcome any emotional or mental roadblocks – thereby allowing you to embrace your true path to the fullest.
Additionally in conjunction with finding your purpose, goal setting acts as a roadmap and can help you face emotional and behavioral difficulties, reconnect with old friends, help you look for a new job or simply help you save for a vacation. Therapy will guide you on how to approach goal planning strategically by breaking things down into smaller more manageable steps. Setting goals in therapy is accepting responsibility for your life and taking active steps to make a change. Always know your purpose can actually shift and change throughout life in response to the evolving priorities and fluctuations of your own experiences.
Coping skills are positive and productive ways to react to mental health issues and life’s stressful situations, whether it’s not getting the promotion you deserve, anxiety about driving, or the death of a loved one. Learning healthy coping skills is essential because it teaches us how to deal with difficulties while building our personal resiliency. Resiliency refers to how quickly a person is able to recover from a difficult situation, or in other words, how quickly and easily they bounce back after a career setback or when a loved one dies – for example. Highly resilient people learn to spot and process difficult and troubling experiences by acknowledging their mistakes if any, learning from the situation, and turning the page. Therapists help foster the natural coping skills everyone has and they will look slightly different from person to person because we’re all unique.
Healthy coping skills become part of your ‘self-care toolbox’, and enable you to recognize threatening situations in their infancy and diffuse them before they become more serious. Coping skills come in two basic classifications: 1) problem-focused and; 2) emotion-focused. Understanding their distinctions helps determine the best to apply to any given the situation.
Problem-focused coping is viable when a change in your situation is needed and you remove the source of stress from your life. For instance, if you’re in a toxic relationship, removing that influence from your life establishes a new boundary and can be relieving. Problem-focused coping resolves exterior factors causing mental health problems.
Emotion-focused coping is viable to care for your personal wellness when you can’t change what stresses you, such as the death of a loved one or a traumatic event. The approach is to regulate your emotional response and feelings to the problem instead of addressing the problem. Examples in practice are journaling, meditation, and talk therapy.
In therapy you will learn to recognize internal and external stressors and create strategies for coping with both in positive ways. Though coping skills are generally addressed as a reactive strategy, research indicates proactive coping strategies can effectively manage obstacles you’re likely to face in life going forward.1
1 Drummond S, Brough P. Proactive coping and preventive coping: Evidence for two distinct constructs?. Personality and Individual Differences. 2016;92:123-127. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.12.029.