Starting therapy during a seasonal change is a wonderful idea — as you begin to feel fall’s presence with earlier sunsets, cooler air, and a collective sense of fresh start, it’s a great time to focus on changes you’d like to make in your own life.
This fall will be a special one. With a summer that offered hope for reconnection and resuming a more “normal” way of life, we continue to grapple with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Surely, it will take many months to find a safe way forward, and many things will not be the same. To this end, immense periods of change provide a timely opportunity to start and benefit from therapy.
If you’re on the fence about looking for a therapist, or starting to consider one, here are six reasons to help you make that leap.
1. Get help navigating reopening anxiety
This fall marks a major transition back into society. Starting in autumn, many schools and companies will end or limit their online and work-from-home policies. For those who are vaccinated, businesses look forward to bringing people back to shopping, restaurant dining, and leisure activities. After nearly a year and a half of disconnection and the continued threat of the Delta variant, many will need to re-adjust and re-acclimate to a social, in-person world.
Ask yourself, “What is my comfort level when I think about reopening?” Many people feel anxious when they think about getting back into the community, starting to work in an office again, or potentially exposing themselves to Covid-19. Re-entry is an unprecedented experience for many — and that may lead to discomfort.
Therapy is a perfect setting to explore these discomforts. Therapists provide comfortable, nonjudgmental spaces for clients to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. In therapy, you’ll identify the situations that cause you the most distress, such as being in class or on a crowded bus. Your therapist will then help you come up with a game plan to tackle these anxieties. You’ll learn how to handle stressful situations and grow your coping skills. In session and as homework, you may practice these skills to determine which ones are the most effective for you. Some common coping skills include:
- Breathwork: If you are prone to feeling anxiety, panic, or fear, breathwork is a powerful way to slow down and relax your thoughts. There are many different styles of mindful breathing out there and a therapist will provide guidance on what may work best for you.
- Visualization: For those who have active imaginations, using your mind’s eye is an effective way to practice being in specific situations. A therapist can teach you not only how to visualize but also how to assess your reactions to what you imagine.
- Comfort tokens: Comfort tokens are tangible, tactile items to touch when you feel overwhelmed. A therapist will teach you how to ground yourself and find comfort when you need it.
Therapists also specialize in helping clients process through any grief or trauma symptoms that occur after difficult experiences. Many people suffered during the pandemic — therapists will help you understand your feelings and the impact that the pandemic had on your life so that you can move forward. With intentional and introspective re-entry, your “new normal” might even feel better than your old one.
2. Talk through your identity and feel proud of who you are
An element that distinguishes the relationship you build with your therapist from other relationships in your life is that the therapeutic relationship solely centers around you. Therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about yourself openly and candidly, week to week. This means that it is a chance to talk through your identity and grow your self-esteem — especially as we recover from the pandemic, as who you are might have changed!
Adaptation intrinsically means change. Whether you started a new hobby during the pandemic or you completed a career switch, a therapist can help you discover (and feel proud of) the new you.
Therapists guide clients through conversations about who they are, where they’re from, and who is involved in their lives with the goal of empowering clients to feel comfortable in their own skins. If you have faced adversity because of your identity, therapy is a place to process through those experiences, and discuss any barriers that keep you from feeling authentic, worthy, or loved.
Many therapists also specialize in working with LGTBQ and minority clients. You can always prioritize your search around provider identity, language, or focus.
3. Determine what makes you happy and take steps towards that happiness
One of the key ways in which the pandemic impacted our emotional lives is that it highlighted where and how we spent our time. It was a wake-up call for some people and led to decisions to work less, exit toxic relationships, or move to another city. Many asked the hard question, “What makes me happy?”
Many people go to therapy because they feel stuck or like they’re missing something. When we’re so wrapped up in having successful careers, going out and having fun, or maintaining healthy relationships, sometimes we don’t understand why we still feel empty. A therapist will help you reflect on what you do every day and how it impacts your feelings of happiness or fulfillment. From there, they’ll help you take the necessary next steps.
Therapy is especially helpful in moments of existential crises. If you find yourself doubting your past choices or wishing that your life was different, therapists help you make sense of your history and alleviate any self-judgements that you have. There may be tough decisions ahead of you if you want to take your life in a different direction — and your therapist will be your cheerleader and coach.
4. Process through new relationships, roles, and patterns
Perhaps one of the biggest markers of time during the pandemic was the amount of engagements, weddings, and pregnancies that happened despite the world feeling paused. Pandemic babies explicitly showed us how much time we spent in lockdown and isolation in nine-month chunks. If you find yourself in a new role (spouse, parent, aunt/uncle) since the pandemic started, you may feel the need to recalibrate or process through what your new role means to you.
Therapy is a useful tool to use when adjusting to a new role, whether that’s a new phase of your life or a new relationship. A therapist will give you space to verbalize how you’re feeling — and they won’t judge you, your decisions, or your lifestyle. Together, you’ll make meaning out of your new stage and have the chance to bring up anything that happened that was exciting, surprising, or uncomfortable.
However, not everyone went through “adult milestones” during the pandemic. Many folks watched friends and family experience change while our own lives felt stagnant. If you feel left out, your therapist will help you address any internalized judgement about these events.
There might also be new patterns that emerge in your daily life, even if your roles or relationships remain constant. With children going back to in-person school this fall, you might finally have a quiet (or empty) house. This may have been your dream a year ago, however it is still an adjustment that could bring up unexpected emotional reactions. Going from spending all of your time with your family to having alone time may be disorienting or feel (ironically) isolating. Having weekly sessions with a therapist gives you the chance to process through these reactions, in case they do come up.
5. Find ways to heal or grow relationships
The pandemic changed the way that we connected with other people, logistically and emotionally. Summer kickstarted many people’s socialization, which means that fall is a great time to re-evaluate your friendships and relationships to ensure that they’re healthy, strong, and positive.
Whether with friends or family, the pandemic instigated many unhealthy patterns in relationships. A therapist can help you identify these unhealthy patterns, such as codependence, separation anxiety, or fighting. They will also teach you skills that could help you become closer with your friends, family, and partners. Here are a few examples of skills that might be useful for you to heal or grow your relationships:
- Healthy communication: Straightforward, detailed communication is vital for relationships to know where they stand and how to improve. A therapist can help you as an individual or couple navigating communication issues, teach you how to speak your mind clearly, and even give you a place to practice conversations with a neutral party
- Boundary setting: By giving others boundaries, you advocate for yourself and your needs. A therapist will help you determine what boundaries feel comfortable and what you will do if someone crosses your boundaries.
- Gratitude: As social creatures, we like to feel loved and connected to those around us. Sharing gratitude or verbalizing appreciation with others promotes healthy, caring relationships. A therapist can help you develop your gratitude practice and guide other bonding activities.
Many therapists also specialize in working with couples, including LGBTQ couples and polyamorous folks, so no matter your relationship status there are people for you to talk to.
6. Expand and diversify your support system
Anyone can benefit from therapy — for any reason, and no reason at all. By adding in a professional to your support system, you’ll have more resources to turn to in times of weakness, and times of strength.
There are many different types of therapy out there, offered by therapists diverse in background and personal experience. Using Zencare, it’s simple to find a therapist that matches your needs. From the Zencare team, we wish you a happy fall!