When I end a therapy session with a patient, I sometimes ask, “how are you feeling now?” Especially when it is the patient’s first time ever in therapy. Surprisingly, even when the session went incredibly deep and filled with raw, unprocessed, negative emotions, patients will generally report feeling “much better.” Or something to that effect.
Seems simple, right? Just come in and chat and you’ll leave feeling better. Well, sometimes it is that simple. What I mean is that sometimes just coming to a therapy session and laying it all out on the table can make people feel relieved. And I mean wonderful, significant relief!
I educate my patients to let them know that relief comes from feeling mentally freer and not having to carry emotional baggage on their shoulders.
Some patients have even reported feeling physically lighter after unloading their innermost thoughts and emotions in a therapy session.
There is absolute truth to the idea that simply talking it out can make people feel much better.
Talking gives you time to organize your own thoughts. You can make sense of the ideas in your head. Analyze your cognition and face your emotions. With this information you can then make conclusions about whether you are being reasonable, over-reacting, whether the issue is even important, etc.
Therapy vs. the Spa
For these reasons, going to therapy is analogous to going to the spa. People go to the spa to feel better. They go to treat themselves well, to feel refreshed, and to walk out feeling lighter. This is also why people go to therapy. This is by no means an attack on spa treatments, but in therapy you are actually resolving your problems.
Massages and facials are lovely, but the stress that led to you there will still be present when you walk out of the spa.
When you walk out of your psychologist’s office, you will ideally have come to some sort of resolution about the problem and perhaps a plan to move forward.
Many people go to the spa to relax, to de-stress. They spend their hard-earned money on very expensive spa treatments, only to walk out with the same problems remaining. Yet, time and again they will overlook the idea of spending money on therapy, which can cost the same or less than a visit to the spa.
Going to therapy is not a luxury, but an investment in your mental health.
Which in turn, is an investment in your overall well-being and happiness. Going to the spa is fun and relaxing, and is most certainly luxurious, but certainly not an investment in anything. Yes, therapy is much harder (mentally) and sometimes not enjoyable. But, the short AND long-term benefits stretch far beyond the short-term difficulty.
The next time you are thinking of scheduling a massage hoping to de-stress, consider scheduling an appointment with your therapist instead. The results at the “therapy spa” are significantly better and the money far better spent.