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5 Reasons Therapy can Benefit Everyone

At a game night last week, my friend (who I’ll call Nate) was concerned about a coworker dealing with a nasty breakup where emotional abuse is involved. Knowing my background in psychology, Nate asked me if his work friend (who I’ll call Anna) should be in therapy. My answer was a resounding yes – but Anna didn’t want to try therapy because, in her words, therapy is only for people who are “messed up.” People who have problems. People who aren’t like Anna.

This is (not) a shocker, but everyone has problems. Separating people into categories of “normal” vs. “broken” doesn’t help, because normal and broken aren’t accurate descriptions. No one is normal. Everyone has their quirks. There are more similarities between people than there are differences: We all have the shared experience of being uniquely, messily human.

Even if we stick with this limiting idea of “normal,” it’s incredibly common (even “normal”) for people to struggle with mental disorders. Kessler et al. (2005) found that the lifetime prevalence of any mental health disorder is 46.4%. Furthermore, NAMI estimates that 1 in 5 people in the United States is experiencing a mental health disorder right now (click here to view more info).

Anna’s response reminded me that there’s a long way to go to fight the stigma of mental health disorders and therapy. There’s no shame in seeking therapy; instead, going to therapy shows your commitment to taking care of yourself, whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not. Feeling a little skeptical? Then read about 5 reasons therapy can benefit everyone.

1. Self-discovery and Growth

Feeling like you don’t fully know or understand yourself is a common struggle. People try to understand themselves within the context of what’s expected of them and milestones they should achieve. Going through life in the framework of these expectations prevents thinking about what you really want. It’s why so many people go through the infamous mid-life crisis and ask themselves: Who am I? Have I gotten what I’ve wanted out of life? Therapy is a chance to talk over with your therapist who you’ve been, who you are now, and where you hope to go. Talking over past disappointments and celebrating current successes is part of the process – as well as considering how you can be the best version of yourself.

Many therapists emphasize a growth mindset to help clients understand that making mistakes is how you learn. People are constantly evolving and changing; we’re not stuck i