What is an emotional healing journey and why and how to start one

Wooden arrow sign on beach that says mental health to symbolize a healing journey.

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Many people struggle with mental health or emotional challenges. Issues like depression, trauma, loss, chronic stress, and debilitating anxiety can seem insurmountable. Research suggests that moving through a healing journey is best done by developing trusting, positive relationships, and reframing emotional burdens with a focus on the ability to respond. So, what defines a healing journey? 

In this article, we cover:

What is a healing journey?

While the term healing journey has a spiritual or metaphysical context for some, here we explore the concept of the emotional healing journey in the context of emotional well-being.

An emotional healing journey is a progression from emotional distress to increased overall emotional well-being. An emotional healing journey is different from a mental health or substance use recovery journey, but it can occur at the same time as mental health or substance use recovery. 

Emotional healing may be possible for some without using clinical treatment as a mode of healing, but many benefit from mental health counseling as part of an emotional healing journey. Talk to your healthcare provider about what’s appropriate for you. 

The healing journey is a process of transformation. There may be some growing pains. (Remember that a qualified clinical therapist can help with these feelings.) At the end of the journey, we’re not who we began as. We feel more at peace, more resolved, and whole.

Reasons to start an emotional healing journey

You can start a healing journey for many reasons. Challenges like trauma, abuse, sexual violation, chronic illness or pain, heartbreak, mental health issues, or loss can feel almost unbearable at times. Emotional trauma can bring us to a crossroads where we have to decide how to proceed, whether toward self-destruction and despair or emotional growth and healing. 

For a survivor of emotional trauma, healing can take time. During this healing process, it’s essential to be patient with yourself. Remember that everyone’s journey is unique. There will be ups and downs along the way, but each challenge is an opportunity for growth. 

A licensed mental health professional can help you navigate this journey. If you need support, talk to your healthcare provider and get information on the type of therapist you need

How do you start an emotional healing journey?

Whether you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, or simply seeking personal growth, embarking on an emotional healing journey can move you into deeper knowledge and understanding of yourself. An emotional healing journey is a process of finding ways to feel better, both physically and mentally. It’s like starting down a path toward personal growth and self-discovery. But where do you begin? 

The first step is to recognize that you need help. Recognizing that you’re unhappy, distressed, or burned out requires radical honesty but is a critical step toward opening your mind to positive change. Sometimes, we all need a little support and guidance from others. 

Seeking therapy or talking to a trusted healthcare provider can be a great starting point. They can provide you with strategies, tools, and resources to help you navigate your emotions and thoughts. 

What are the stages of emotional healing?

One of the most important aspects of an emotional healing journey is being honest with yourself. Take time to reflect on your emotions and thoughts. And don’t shy away from facing the difficult parts of your past. Key stages of the healing process include:

  1. Acceptance. Realizing that healing is needed. This starts with awareness, and it can take time.
  1. Self-assessment. Beginning to assess the past and how it’s impacting you today.
  1. Hope. Opening up to support from the right people and systems. 
  1. Vulnerability. As you begin therapy, journaling, meditation, or other internal work, you may feel uncomfortable feelings like sadness, grief, or anger.
  1. Healing. Beginning to understand which tools and skills can add health and vitality to your daily life.
  1. Strengthening support systems. As you do your healing work, you may release old connections and build new connections that more closely align with self-care and wellness. 

Healing isn’t just about addressing the mental and emotional aspects. It also involves taking care of your physical body. Engage in activities that make you feel good physically, such as exercising, eating nutritious food, and getting enough rest. Your mind and body are interconnected, so nurturing one positively impacts the other.

Throughout your healing journey, it’s important to build a support system. Surround yourself with people who uplift and encourage you. They can include a therapist, friends, family members, or even support groups where you can share your experiences and learn from others.

Your mental healthcare provider will provide you with the tools and support you need to reinforce your unique therapy goals. Some of these tools may include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), positive or strength-based coping tools, or medication support. 

What to expect from your emotional healing journey

The work of emotional healing can feel messy at first. Sometimes, it feels worse before you start to experience the positive benefits of self-healing. 

When you’ve experienced abusive situations, assault, trauma, or dangerous encounters, the wounds can run deep. You may feel anxious, overwhelmed, and even numb at times. Have hope, though, many people have traveled a road toward mental health recovery or emotional healing and found peace after trauma, loss, or chaos. Patience and dedication to the process are important. And if you’re not in therapy, consider getting professional help if you feel overwhelmed. 

As you learn to set healthy boundaries for yourself, you create a safe emotional space where you can heal and grow. This may involve setting limits on certain relationships or situations that cause you distress. Putting your well-being first lets you truly take care of yourself. 

Your therapist will help you figure out how to create a healthy support system that supports creating a safe emotional space, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care. 

How long does emotional healing take?

You may be wondering, how long until therapy works? Although you may want to snap your fingers and complete the process, therapy takes time to have a real impact. And if you have a mental health diagnosis, therapy outcomes, and timelines will vary depending on your level of need and the complexity of your situation. 

While you may get some relief from just a session or two, it’s more likely to take some time to develop rapport with your therapist and to work through deeper issues in therapy. Research indicates that it takes 15 to 20 sessions for about half of mental therapy clients to experience relief. And it’s normal to feel a little better or worse at different times during this process.

What can help? It’s important to find a therapist that you trust. Try to choose a clinician you feel at ease with. Research shows that the therapeutic relationship is a major factor in successful outcomes. 

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

Start your healing journey

If you’re thinking of beginning an emotional healing journey, get the support you deserve. Healthcare providers, safe and trusted family and friends, and a licensed mental health therapist can, together, create a supportive safety net as you stretch, grow, and heal. 

To get started, check out Klarity to find a therapist and secure an appointment within 48 hours. The first step can be scary, but don’t let that stop you. Your new life is waiting on the other side of your healing journey. 

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

If you’re having a mental health crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, it’s crucial to seek immediate help from a mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. You can also call your local emergency services, visit your nearest emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling or texting 988 or dialing the Lifeline’s previous phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the U.S.

How we reviewed this article: This article goes through rigorous fact-checking by a team of medical reviewers. Reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the author.

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Geralyn Dexter

Dr. Geralyn Dexter received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University, and a doctorate in Psychology from Northcentral University. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over a decade of clinical experience. Currently, Dr. Dexter is a mental health and substance use writer, psychology faculty at Southern New Hampshire University, and content reviewer for Verywell Health and ESA Doctors.

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