When it comes to your health, you want the best results possible—and that includes your mental health as well as your physical. Whether you deal with conditions like depression, social anxiety, substance abuse, or PTSD or simply want a pick me up for your brain’s wellbeing, therapy and self-help are two of the most common ways you’ll work towards being your best self.
Many use the two together but others might want to choose one or the other, whether that’s for a lack of time or money, personal preference, or another reason. If you’re one of those people deciding between the two, a few factors can help you determine which is the best fit for you.
Benefits of Therapy
Many people believe the stereotype that only “crazy” people go to therapy. In reality, that’s not the case at all: even the happiest people can benefit from visiting a psychologist, therapy group, or individual therapy. Naturally, therapy can be a great fit for those dealing with mental health issues and diagnoses like anxiety and depression. But there are many other ways a therapist or other mental health professional can help.
For example, as Therapy Group of DC outlines, challenges such as disconnect or resentment in your marriage or partnership, frustration with your career, or understanding your sexuality and identity are all struggles that therapy can help with, despite not being a diagnosed mental illness. Michael Dadashi – the founder of an Austin Drug Rehab center states that “the one thing that has kept me clean and sober since 2009 is my belief that therapy is key to mental and emotional health”. He also said, “while self-help has its merits, a qualified practitioner is much more equipped to help you heal and prosper”.
One of the biggest selling points of therapy, of course, is the therapist themself. Their input and the resources they have available to them are incomparable; when working with a highly-trained mental health professional, you’re receiving the benefits of their years of training and experience to help you improve your life. They’ve pretty much seen it all, which allows them to apply that existing knowledge to your life. Better yet, that means you shouldn’t worry about sharing your honest thoughts and feelings: chances are, they’ve heard it before.
Benefits of Self-Help
Self-help techniques come in a variety of forms: books and apps share mindfulness, meditation, or breathing techniques, grounding exercises, and other methods of coping with symptoms and better managing your mental health. They’re often free tools or, at the very least, significantly cheaper than traditional therapy.
They’re often subtle, too—if you’re worried about “airing your dirty laundry,” so to speak, no one needs to know you’re ordering self-help books or downloading a chatbot to manage depression. With ebooks and services like shipanon.com, even the mail carrier will be none the wiser.
The most important aspect, if you opt for self-help methods, is that they only work if you implement them. A good rule of thumb is to take in one new method—read one book or take one course, for example—and then work through the actionable items in it before picking up another.
Which is better?
Ultimately, deciding what methods for managing your mental health are best for you will depend a lot on you. If you’re nervous about talking to a psychotherapist or other professional, you might want to begin delving into self-help resources to start. If having someone to talk to—an uninvolved third-party, at that—and an expert to help guide you through your struggles is just what you need to take action, maybe therapy would be a better fit.
Psychology Today breaks it down well for most people:
- “A good therapist is the best option.
- A good self-help book is the 2nd best option.
- A bad self-help book does the least harm.
- And a bad therapist is the most harmful.”
Whether you take advantage of therapy, self-help methods, or some combination of the two, you’ll be well on your way to improving your life—and doing so in whatever way is right for you.