Your doctor thinks you should get some counseling because you might have a problem with self-care. But you don’t think that psychotherapy is worth the money, even though the objective is to help you overcome mental illness and emotional trouble by removing symptoms and improving your personality. Is it really worth the money, though?
Psychotherapy is worth the money. It can help you build new habits, eliminate self-liming beliefs, learn how to solve your problems, build self-confidence, and learn how to take responsibility. You will have a new self-awareness that can help you through life’s issues.
If you’ve ever had to go through psychotherapy, you might know it’s worth it. However, let’s dive in and talk more about whether it’s worth the money or not.
Things To Know About Psychotherapy
Most people have a stereotypical image of how psychotherapy works. We might imagine a doctor in a tweed sweater, holding a fancy jotter and asking you to talk about your feelings.
While talking is part of the psychotherapeutic process, there is more. Psychotherapy has many branches, with different techniques and approaches to treatment. They are all designed for different people and diverse conditions.
There are different types of psychotherapy, which include:
- Guided discovery is a technique for probing the patient’s assumptions, beliefs, and perspectives.
- A positive data log is an activity where the patient keeps track of the positive thoughts that combat their negative ones.
- Assumption probing is a process where the patient is asked to provide evidence that either supports or refutes their assumptions.
- Thought records help a patient differentiate between facts and thoughts and their mood.
- Dream interpretation: Uses your dreams to investigate your unconscious mind
- Free association: This allows you to talk freely to establish connections to memories
- Transference: Project your feelings about another person on the therapy, as though the therapist were that person.
- Core mindfulness: Helps you improve your awareness of every present moment.
- Distress tolerance: Helps you navigate crises by teaching techniques such as distraction and self-soothing.
- GIVE: Improve interpersonal interactions by learning to be Gentle, Interested, Validate the other person, and have an Easy attitude.
- Emotional regulation: Master proven techniques such as identifying what you’re feeling and doing the opposite.
- Guided imagery and rescripting: replaying unpleasant events to learn how to behave in similar situations
- Bodily work: breathing exercises, physical training, and other similar activities to improve mental wellbeing
- Drama: role-playing to help the patient understand themselves and build empathy
There are two other types of therapy that can help you through your issues. Let’s look at them.
The maxim “a problem shared is a problem solved” is no cliche. In psychotherapy, you’ll do a lot of talking. Do you know that release or closure you get when you speak to someone in a safe space? Well, imagine doing that with someone who will never tell, who is trained to ask you the right questions, and will listen to you without judgment.
Psychotherapy is so powerful because it encourages patients to talk. As a result, a few benefits are achieved:
- You confront traumatic events that you’ve avoided talking about.
- Talking can help you understand emotions such as anger or shame. For example, you might’ve experienced being angry but not understanding why you’re mad. Psychotherapy can help you to articulate the reason and rationale for your anger.
- Talk therapy also helps you process and understand the differences between your true personality and the mental conditions that trigger your moods. Simply put, you will realize that your identity is not the problematic mood and behavior that cripples you so much.
Many people have serious trust issues, as several people in their lives have let them down, which shapes their expectations of people. It won’t be easy for such people to trust their therapist, as this can affect the psychotherapeutic process.
Humans are adaptable, which can shape how we interact with the world. So while many people have adapted to a life of paranoia and too much caution, the process of psychotherapy could be the turning point that helps them begin to trust people again.
Since trusting your therapist is a core component of the process, you can do a few things to help yourself get the help you need:
- Compile your list of potential therapists. Talk to friends and colleagues you respect. Ask them to recommend therapists, or you can check local websites to find therapists.
- Find a therapist with whom you’re most comfortable. You can call everyone on your list and have short conversations with them. Doing this should give you a feel of the therapist, reducing your inhibitions.
- Once you’ve started the therapeutic process, you should communicate your feelings of distrust to the therapist. Build rapport with your therapist by only sharing the things you’re comfortable sharing.
Any good therapist can make it easier for you by allowing you to grow in comfort.
The therapist takes the chance to teach you techniques that help you develop trust. In this way, you would have started rebuilding your ability to trust before you have even begun to confront the real issues.
Perhaps the natural beauty of psychotherapy is that the process itself is transformative.
The process will not work for you if you don’t trust it. I salute you for taking steps toward change, and perhaps reading this blog is a sign that you’re ready to start opening up.
Now, let’s look at the other things to know about psychotherapy.
Build New Habits
You will be given assignments throughout the psychoanalytic process, which you will work on outside the walls of the therapist’s office.
These assignments range from taking stock of your emotions to keeping a diary. If you put effort into completing these assignments, you will develop new habits and become a better person.
We explain just two examples of these assignments below.
Activity scheduling is a behavioral technique designed to help you keep track of all the activities you engage in all week long.
The assumption is that you enjoy some activities and detest some others.
This makes you consciously keep track of everything you’re doing and measure how much you enjoy each activity. Then, you are encouraged to actively start creating a schedule around the actions you’ve mastered or that you want.
Once this habit is formed, it can be adopted into other parts of your life.
Another common assignment you will be given is to gather data around your “safety behaviors.” For example, your safety behavior could be to avoid eye contact because you fear confrontation.
Even in situations that require you to maintain eye contact, you still revert to your safety behavior.
Your therapist might ask you to experiment with the safety behavior, which would involve making predictions about what could happen if you don’t revert to that behavior. Then, you are encouraged to find out if your prediction was right or wrong.
Cultivating a habit like this can help you take more risks and let go of your inhibitions.
What we have shared above barely scratches the surface on the kinds of assignments your therapist will give you. If you execute them faithfully, you will develop new healthy habits. Your life will be better for it.
Discover and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs
You have probably heard the quote, “as a man thinketh, so he is.”
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a branch of psychotherapy, firmly believes in the power of thoughts. In practice, CBT attempts to form connections between your thoughts and behavior. This means that identifying your negative core beliefs is crucial to treatment success.
A negative core belief is a negative thought that is so deeply ingrained in your psyche that it impacts your behavior. These beliefs are reflected in how you see yourself, your perspective of the world, and how you view the future.
Miss Kristina Fenn and Dr. Majella Byrnen describe this as “the cognitive triad of core negative beliefs.” Here’s a diagram from their paper titled “The key principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
The major problem with negative core beliefs is that they are not rooted in facts or empirical evidence. They are simply a product of reinforced affirmations. For example, you may believe that it is unsafe to go out when you’re living in Dubai even though Dubai is busy for 24 hours and has some of the lowest crime rates in the world.
Negative core beliefs limit our lives because they place mental boundaries that most people never break through. Psychotherapy will help you identify these thoughts and give you the tools you need to root them out.
Coping Mechanism and Mental Models
The human mind is incredibly nimble, yet many people never truly experience its power. They are often controlled by their emotions when they should be in charge.
Perhaps you have sometimes felt powerless in the face of anxiety or anger. You want to stop a specific behavior, but you can’t seem to control yourself. You quickly fall into bouts of rage, experience sudden mood swings, and break a sweat in social interactions.
People don’t understand, and they just don’t get it. It is not like you want to live like this, but you feel powerless to do anything about it. The truth is that you are not alone.
Billions of people on the planet experience the same thing, except each person has their demons.
Indeed, influential individuals are those who are always in control. Maybe it’s a reach to suggest that you should always be in control. Maybe there is something to be gained in letting your emotions go.
But isn’t it better to at least have the option of choosing between taming your passions or letting them lead?
Knowledge holds the secret to control. A real superpower is knowing what to do when you feel overwhelmed by forces that make you feel small. Psychotherapy provides this knowledge in the form of coping mechanisms and mental models.
Coping mechanisms teach you how to control your passions, and mental models give you effective frameworks that help you understand the world.
You may not want to take over the world, but shouldn’t you want to conquer yourself?
Solve Problems and Build Confidence
I once went to a gym, and the wallpaper said, “it doesn’t get easier; you get better.” Those are powerful words that tell us how humankind works.
See, nobody starts confidently right off the bat. Sometimes, their parents planted the right seeds either consciously or unconsciously. For some others, they had to go through building new neural pathways.
How does this relate to psychotherapy and problem-solving?
You might never have truly understood the power of small wins, which is why you lack confidence. Maybe you were an average student in high school and didn’t have much going for you. You took the same level of confidence to college and into adulthood.
But one day, you did a real good job at work, and your employer noticed. You won the “employee of the month” badge, and then you realized that you could be good at something. Suddenly, you became more confident in that aspect of your life, which spilled over.
Remember when we spoke about assignments and good habits in psychotherapy?
If you complete them, you’ll be proud of yourself and grow confident. If you use your coping mechanisms and mental models to control yourself and influence your environment, you’ll gain confidence.
When you successfully apply the conflict resolution skills you learn at therapy, you’ll grow.
Psychotherapy allows you to achieve incremental improvements in your confidence. It gives you simple tasks that are also hard enough to challenge you. You solve problems, and then you realize that you’re good at this.
The best part? Your psychotherapist will never judge you if you fail. As a result, there is no safer space for growing your confidence.
Learn To Take Responsibility
The good thing about being an adult is that nobody can tell you what to do. The bad thing about being an adult is that nobody can tell you what to do!
You are master of your universe and captain of your boat.
You are solely responsible for the direction of your life and the safety of your boat. Sure, people here and there contribute to how you live, such as politicians, the economy, your parents, your boss, and so on. You can’t control any of those things, so it is counterproductive to complain about them.
The only thing you can control is yourself.
Psychotherapy teaches you to take charge of your life and shows you that you’re not powerless and can change the things about your life that you don’t like.
It teaches you that blaming anyone but yourself is accompanied by the satisfaction of being a victim and that victimhood amplifies anger and helplessness. Therapy can teach you how to do the opposite, which is to become less angry and use your power.
You’ll learn to control your narrative and tell your own story.
It won’t just be a teacher telling you what to do. It’ll be someone you trust, giving you practical and actionable tips to improve your state of mind. If you feel powerless in your life, therapy will change that.
Psychotherapy Rewires the Brain, Literally
Under normal circumstances, the brain undergoes a natural pathway of growth. Trauma in childhood or adulthood can negatively impact that growth. Negative emotional experiences affect the neural networks that connect emotions and cognition. The term for this is dissociation.
So, how does psychotherapy fix this problem?
- Psychotherapy is a learning process. Since the brain is elastic, learning can stretch it and eventually change its structure. The understanding that accompanies psychotherapy can extend the patient’s brain and change the brain structure.
- Psychotherapy is also a balance between stress and arousal. It is a rollercoaster journey where you sometimes have to think about things that stress you. It can also be pleasurable. The balance between stress and arousal could trigger the release of somatotropin, thereby encouraging cognitive growth.
Remember when we mentioned the discovery and elimination of self-negative core beliefs? The thing about changing them is that they also impact the structure of your brain. As a result, the changes to your thought patterns are more deeply rooted.
Psychotherapy Increases Self Awareness
The ancient Greeks were very smart people, and they had a saying that’s found its way to the 21st century. “Know thyself.”
We’ve already established that psychotherapy is talk therapy. You spend a lot of time analyzing your feelings, understanding your triggers, and experiencing your reactions. You get tools that allow you to increase the degree to which you know the things that are happening in your head.
In a world where most people follow the mold, wouldn’t you like to craft your own unique story? Your story might include:
- Your own strengths, and weaknesses.
- The opportunities to grow, and threats you should avoid.
- The things you enjoy, and the ones you detest.
- Situations that make you uncomfortable, and why.
You cannot write your story or follow your own path if you don’t know yourself. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything.
In a way, knowing yourself is the total of everything you’ll get out of psychotherapy. Understanding who you are helps you craft strategies to maximize your potential and dampen your darker instincts. The future is yours, and you can take it one day at a time.
- Nature: Nature Reviews Endocrinology: Growth hormone and cognitive function
- Psychology Today: How Does Psychotherapy Change Our Brains?
- MentalHelp.net: Does Psychotherapy Help Everyone?.
- Psychology Today: Psychotherapy Works But Not for Everyone
- Good Therapy: From Blame to Responsibility: Taking Ownership of Your Problems
- Neuro: Is It Possible to Increase Your IQ?
- Eddins Counseling Group: Uncover Your Core Beliefs so You Can Change Them.
- Therapy For You UK: Activity scheduling and what to expect from CBT
- Good Therapy: How Do I Trust a Therapist If I Can’t Trust Anyone?
- Positive Psychology: 21 Best Interpersonal Therapy Techniques & Worksheets [PDF]
- Verywell Mind: What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?
- Verywell Mind: What Is Psychoanalytic Therapy?
- SAGE Journals: The key principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy
- American Psychiatric Association: What is Psychotherapy?
- Alvarado Parkway Institute Behavioral Health System: What Are the Benefits of Psychotherapy?