Regular exercise keeps illness at bay and promotes overall physical health. So why do we treat the mental side differently? “People often wait until things are completely falling apart to start therapy,” says Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and cofounder of Coa, a mental health gym that offers classes on skills like resilience, mindfulness, and self-awareness.

“But that’s like waiting until you have heart disease to start cardio.” Just as getting your blood pumping can help prevent cardiac disease, “therapy can be a proactive way to stay on top of your emotional well-being,” Anhalt says.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, therapy has been shown to increase career satisfaction, improve physical health, and enhance our connections to others. “Therapy can help us become more authentic versions of ourselves, which can improve how we feel in our skin and in our relationships,” says Anhalt.

Know Your Options 

Therapy can involve more than just talking about your feelings. Here are three other approaches, along with who benefits from each.

IF: You’re struggling with self-critical thoughts, panic attacks, or phobias.

TRY: Cognitive behavioral therapy.

“CBT is a structured approach that begins with a treatment plan and goal setting, and it teaches people how to change their behaviors and think more flexibly,” explains Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles.

IF: You need help processing trauma.

TRY: Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.