“Time heals all wounds… Is it true??”
“This, too, shall pass… I shall be alright with passing time.”
“I may not need any professional help… Time is a healer.”
Why should I go for therapy?
These are some common statements we may use during periods of life when we are experiencing distress and trying our best to cope with a challenging life situation. At times, these statements may become a barrier to reaching out for help that could actually be beneficial. Other common statements are “I will talk to my friends/family… and get over it!”
It is partly true that time heals many wounds. These statements could help a person face complex events in life… but these may not always be in the longer run, across all situations?
Is time really the best healer? The answer is yes, and no.
What happens when you have a deep cut on your finger? Will you still wait for time to heal? No. Your immediate response will be to wash the wound and apply first aid. Physical injuries capture our immediate attention. The medicines, bandages, dressing, and the passage of time help the damage to heal. Here I would like to bring your attention to the fact that time heals but attention, care and immediate response further help in the healing process.
What about the psychological pain/injury? Is it not worth your attention?
The impact of painful events might reduce over time. People have the capacity to recover from difficult situations. One important thing to remember during this ‘waiting’ period is that one must also process the emotions that they are going through. If the feelings are not processed but are somewhat repressed/avoided/ignored, then they may linger on for a longer time in one form or another.
Time does have the capacity to help in the healing of wounds. But what a person does during this time is also very important in shaping the final outcomes if the damaging impact is reduced or worsened in the future. A person may use their time in healthier ways like self-reflection, gaining deeper insights about self or situation, better self-understanding and personal growth which can facilitate the healing process.
On the other hand, coping using quick fix/quick relief methods such as addiction or constant brooding, not moving towards forgiving oneself/others, holding on to a grudge, for a prolonged time can make the healing process more difficult. It may be hard sometimes for a person to recognise and work through these different patterns of thinking and behaviours occurring with the passing time by themselves. Reaching out and seeking support from various sources in these situations is essential sign of courage and strength.
Why / When should I take professional help?
A Clinical / Counselling psychologist is a trained professional. Professionals are equipped with therapy skills and can help you with uncovering patterns of thinking and behaviours that come in way of healing and strengthen your internal resources (including coping skills) to deal with difficult life situations. A professional will provide support to you in a safe and non-judgemental environment that can facilitate healing and growth. It is not necessary that you have to be diagnosed with mental health problems to be benefitted from therapy. An experienced professional can lead you through the healing process in ways that provide more profound healing than time alone can offer. While the support of friends and family is very important, professional help is different, though it complements and supplements informal support you may receive from family and friends. An experienced professional can help you get to the root of your concerns, help you deal with emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life.
Ph.D. Scholar, Positive Psychology Unit,
Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS