What if therapy for college students was just another graduation requirement?
College is hard, that much we can all agree upon. There’s so much pressure to succeed in classes while balancing a social life.
Add to that holding down a job, the challenge of staying healthy, or maybe even navigating a world away from home, and it’s easy to see why so many people find college overwhelming or feel a little bit lost.
Going to therapy as a college student might sound daunting, but it’s actually a lot more common than you think.
Everyone can benefit from therapy
Seeking therapy as a college student can be hugely beneficial to the quality of life during your college years and beyond.
We all feel overwhelmed at one time or another. If you’re unsure of how to work through these feelings, here’s a friendly reminder for you: There is no shame in getting help.
It used to be that therapy carried a stigma; that if you were seeing a therapist, you must be crazy or a danger to yourself and others.
Fortunately, popular culture has done a lot to normalize therapy as a healthy outlet for dealing with stress.
While some people only consider therapy appropriate for those who are severely depressed or under extreme anxiety, or only consider medication appropriate for those diagnosed with a clinical mental health problem, therapy is suitable for all kinds of situations (for example, when you’re simply not feeling yourself).
The truth is, no one should ever feel shame for having a mental illness.
If you’re reading this and wondering what the signs and symptoms are of depression, a very common mental illness amongst college students, you can read more by following the link.
With that said, if therapy isn’t only for extreme problems, you’re probably wondering…
Why should I go to therapy?
There are tons of excellent reasons to try therapy. Here are some things that therapy can do for you:
1. Therapists let you vent
Therapy sometimes looks like it does in the movies, with someone laying on the couch and talking out what happened during their day. A lot of the time, however, therapy is just a conversation between two people, helping sort through confusing thoughts or situations.
Therapists understand that everyday life can be challenging for anyone and everyone, regardless of who you are.
They’re there to listen to you and help you gain insight into what’s happening in your head without offering an unsolicited opinion.
In the simplest way, a therapist can just be an unbiased person you talk to once a week that helps you better understand yourself so you can live a more intentional life.
2. You might improve your grades
When your mental health improves, conversely, so does your productivity and focus.
A therapist can help you work through the clutter in your brain, which helps you better focus on the things that really matter.
Rather than wasting time analyzing what you can’t understand, therapists help you learn to work through and accept life’s challenges.
This can be done by changing patterns of negative self-talk, anxiety, or overthinking, allowing you to put your brain to work tackling challenges that you can actually solve.
When you do finally see a therapist, see if you can improve your productivity by implementing some of these tips.
3. Learn the skillset to get through tough days
Therapy isn’t just talking: it’s also about identifying strategies to get past the struggles of everyday life.
Here’s a few examples of some skills you might work on when seeing a therapist:
- Examining negative thought patterns and replacing them with healthy coping mechanisms
- Finding relaxation techniques that work for you or facing fears head-on
- Strategies to manage daily anxiety and gain more control
In time, you’ll find that the practice you do in therapy soon becomes second nature in your daily life. You’ll begin to notice real changes in your overall mood and energy as well.
4. Work through past trauma (even if you didn’t know you had any)
If you suffered some kind of trauma in your life – anything from bullying to your parent’s divorce or a death in your family – therapy is a great place to process the emotions you may have stuffed down for no one (including you) to see.
There’s a funny thing about feelings: Hiding them doesn’t make them go away, it actually ends up just making them worse.
When wondering if you should go to therapy, remember that therapists are trained to help you understand how you are feeling, why, and what to do with those emotions now.
The best part is, the more you understand the impact traumas and life events have had on you, the easier it becomes to move through and come to terms with those feelings today and in the future.
By understanding why you act the way you act and feel the way you feel, you can begin to make real changes in the ways you deal with situations that formerly felt ‘out of your control.’
5. Get actionable advice from an unbiased professional
Are you having relationship struggles? Are your friends causing drama?
Therapy is a great place to talk through common and uncommon life issues that seem unbearable as they’re happening.
A therapist can provide real, actionable advice that you can adhere to and use to process situations in a more meaningful way.
Sometimes this means simply hitting the “mental block” button on your brain and letting things go in order to move on to the next part of your life and find real happiness within.
6. Boost your mood
Therapy is all about feeling better about yourself.
Certainly, if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or any other serious mental challenge, therapy will help you feel more secure in yourself and your disorder.
But even if you don’t fall into any of these categories, therapy can help provide you with much-needed support as well.
You don’t need to suffer from a clinical mental condition to go to therapy; in fact, it can be extremely beneficial to go proactively, before you burn out or hit a rough patch in your life.
Think about it: You get your teeth cleaned by your dentist to avoid cavities; therapy is similar for your brain.
Let’s be honest, sometimes venting to a friend just isn’t going to cut it. After a few weeks in therapy, you’ll likely feel like you can conquer the world.
How to find the right therapist in college
Going to therapy is incredibly useful for anyone.
Whether you’re struggling with your mental health or just need someone to talk to who is unbiased and removed from your daily life, therapy is especially for college students who may feel isolated or lacking direction.
Keep in mind, you may need to try a few different therapists before you find the right fit, but don’t get discouraged. You may find you hate some but love others, and that’s totally normal.
You have to find someone who works for you, but you won’t find that person if you don’t look.
Start with your college’s mental health services department, as they probably have affordable resources for you to explore. Your insurance company should also be able to provide a list of therapists in your area.
If you’re feeling unsure about whether or not you need therapy, that’s okay too. Many people ask this question at some point and it’s not abnormal to be curious.