If you are hurting inside, or your life just doesn’t seem to be working, talking with friends or family members can sometimes help you feel a little better for a while. But even the most well-meaning friend can’t provide therapy. Therapy and counseling is a treatment process that uses specialized techniques of caring that have been designed to offer effective, long-lasting help for people suffering from a wide range of difficulties, such as depression, emotional distress, anxiety, marital strife, fears, a significant loss, or other clinical disorders and life concerns. Therapy and counseling can also help fulfill aspirations for personal growth or self-improvement.

One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy is that seeing a therapist or counselor is a sign of weakness. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Recognizing the need for help and seeking professional therapy or counseling is a sign of both strength and your determination to live a productive and meaningful life! Working together, you and your therapist or counselor will identify your goals (what you want to have happen) and agree on how you’ll know when you are making progress. Therapy and counseling have one clear and definite purpose: that something of positive value and constructive usefulness will come out of it for you.

Therapy has often been called the “talking cure,” since the exchange of words between the client and therapist or counselor can appear to be the most obvious form of communication that is going on. In reality, therapy and counseling can offer a much richer experience than the simple exchange of words and advice. The thoughts and feelings you share and the professional techniques the therapist or counselor are the currency that is used in building the relationship that is the foundation for healing and growth.  Because the relationship with the therapist or counselor is so essential to the effectiveness of the process, it is very important that you find someone with whom you feel a comfortable connection, a therapist or counselor who helps you to feel understood.

As therapy or counseling progresses and your trust in the therapist’s or counselor’s non-judgmental acceptance of your thoughts and feelings is established, you will actually use the relationship as an opportunity to reshape significant emotional experiences and work through problems in your life. In therapy and counseling, you intentionally allow yourself vulnerable so that you can safely talk about some things that might be quite painful, depressing, troubling, disturbing, or simply frustrating for you. However, it is the very process of trusting that it’s safe to release your feelings–the good and the bad–and knowing that the therapeutic relationship permits you to safely explore deeply felt sources of conflict and dissatisfaction, that can allow you to make lasting, positive changes in your life.