How does therapy help?
People often seek psychotherapy to get relief from the emotional pain or frustration of a mental condition such as a mood disorder (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder), anxiety (general or specific), an addiction, or an eating disorder.
Someone may be overwhelmed by stress or may simply want to better manage a particular area of their life. They may want to perform better at work or in school, improve their decision making skills, manage money more effectively or get more organized.
Since life doesn't come with an instruction manual and relationship dynamics are not taught in school, many people find that they could use some coaching on how to be more successful in dealing with others. Many people have difficulty managing conflict, setting limits, showing affection or communicating effectively. A psychotherapist can educate and "coach" in the art of positively relating to others.
Make lifestyle changes.
Making behavioral changes permanent is difficult. Often people are able to adopt new behaviors (i.e. improved diet, spending habits, exercise regimen, better parenting, etc...) for some period of time but then they return to old habits. A therapist can present ways to modify behavior and "coach" clients to achieve long-lasting results.
Sometimes people get stuck in patterns of thinking or acting that aren't working for them. Usually they have recognized the issue (i.e. anger, lack of assertiveness, fear of failure) but that awareness has not led to change. Therapy is a great tool for eliminating inertia or "being stuck" in order to create change.
There are times in our lives when we encounter difficulty as a result of a new or ongoing situation. Examples of such situations are: divorce, marriage, the death of someone we love, loss of a job, legal trouble, work stress, family conflict, illness, an "empty nest", a new baby, or a new "blended" family. It's not that we can't handle the difficulty by ourselves but the support of a therapist is a practical way to help us deal better with our emotions and ease our way through times of crisis. Also, therapy is a way of taking care of ourselves at a time when we may be overwhelmed by the needs of those around us.
Sometimes we don't know what is going on with us but we know that we feel unsettled and we wonder if there is something we are "missing". Therapy can help us sort through the feelings and the facts of our lives to determine how we might better achieve our goals. Perhaps our expectations are unrealistic or perhaps there really is something that we could be doing that would make us more comfortable with ourselves and the world.