...therapy has two possible goals: treat illness (medical model) and/or promote health (wellness model).
With this in mind, therapy offers potential benefit to everyone. Think of any time you felt relief after opening up about something, no matter how small. Therapy provides a consistent and comfortable space for that honesty. Who wouldn't want that?
In my biased opinion, I believe everyone could benefit from the help of a trained, qualified, non-judgmental, objective, caring professional at some point in their life. Does everyone “need” this? No. It wouldn’t hurt, and would likely help.
In an effort to understand therapy and its possible benefits, Vice's Cindy Kuzma refers to psychiatrist Dion Metzger. According to Metzger, many patients are surprised by how "emotionally evocative" therapy can be even in the beginning:
Though some of this can be uncomfortable, Metzger's first-time patients primarily report a sense of relief. “They feel like they've unloaded it, and really even before we even started working on our therapeutic techniques, there's something very beneficial to just be able to talk about what you've been through,” she says.
But not all professionals are on the same page. Although clinical psychotherapist Karen Arluck believes therapy can be beneficial for most, there's no guarantee that it will be. As with anything in life, therapy is fallible, and Arluck sets expectations that it may not be the perfect solution for everyone.
Arluck points out that a patient's mindset is essential. Despite common misconception, therapy is not meant to be a space for patients to go and list their woes and complaints and nothing else. Arluck explains in Forbes:
While discussing problems is certainly a large part of therapy, the goal of therapy is actually to work on change. Many people do not actually want to do the work to change what they are struggling with, but merely want to go to therapy to vent every week, without wanting to develop more self-awareness and/or apply this to their life. Therapists are not magicians, and therefore cannot help a person change anyone else besides the client.
For those only wanting to use therapy as a vent session, it may not be the best solution.
But many clinical psychologists believe that although its true not everyone needs therapy, everyone can benefit from therapy. As psychologist Nick Wignall puts it, it is the belief that one does or does not "need" to go therapy that contributes to the stigma surrounding it. By disqualifying the possibility, you separate yourself from those who do go and those who do not. Wignall writes:
The moral of the story is that by framing therapy in terms of what we need rather than what we could benefit from, many people experience too much shame or embarrassment to try it.
Wignall compares therapy to physical health. Not everyone needs to exercise, but everyone can benefit from daily movement. He concludes:
Many people don’t struggle with a major mental health difficulty, and they have resources and support in their lives that helps them remain resilient even in the face of difficult stressors or other troubles. On the other hand, some people’s lives are severely impacted by their emotional struggles, and for these people, therapy may be the minimum they need just to keep their lives from falling apart.
But the vast majority of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Again, it's all about the mindset. If a patient is resistant to therapy, they shouldn't expect it to work wonders. According to AnxietyCentre.com:
Therapy takes time, and often, a lot of time. In fact, usually much more than most people think. It takes time to uncover the offending underlying factors and then to make healthy change.
Others make the point that therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. Not only can it be expensive, but it can be difficult to adjust to. For some, therapy simply isn't the right solution, and that's okay.