Talk Therapy, Why It May Be Right For You
Talk Therapy, Why It May Be Right For You
Those who engage in talk therapy and commit to seeing it through bring about personal emotional growth and a more satisfying life. Patients enter therapy for a variety of reasons. Do you struggle with one or more of the following problems?
- You suffer from recurring symptoms of anxiety or depression for which you would like understanding and symptom relief without the use of medication
- You want to feel more joy and satisfaction in your personal relationships
- You would like to end a pattern of self-sabotaging behavior that holds you back from achieving more in your love relations or work life
- You deny yourself the experience of true intimacy with another, for reasons that you don’t understand and can’t seem to prevent
- You behave in ways that preclude the possibility of joyful living, for example repeatedly choosing narcissistic personalities with whom you fall in love
- You recently entered a life crisis around the end of a love relationship, the illness or death of a loved one, or severe job stress
- You may know what you want but feel uncertain about how to move toward your goals.
- You may feel stuck in a life that feels out of control
What is necessary in making this commitment to therapy, in sitting with a psychotherapist and examining one’s life? At its core, the psychotherapeutic relationship requires shared courage on the part of the patient and the therapist. At the beginning of talk therapy, and from time-to-time throughout its course, the experience can feel quite scary for the patient. Coming to terms with certain realities heretofore avoided is emotionally challenging, and may feel daunting and overwhelming. At times extremely painful feelings, embarrassing or shameful fantasies, and troubling memories will arise during the course of therapy, all demanding the courage to confront, explore, understand, and resolve them.
Two novel perspectives on therapy were recently shared with us by two patients. A young adult patient – a tough, charismatic, and highly talented college football player – put it like this, “You have to man up, and face yourself in therapy.” Another patient, a middle-aged professional woman from the financial services industry, described therapy as a place where “You are not a side effect of your life, you are an active participant in your own well-being.”
An important element in longer-term psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy is analyzing the unconscious causes of self-sabotaging behaviors that often originate in childhood relationships. In the course of therapy, as the patient grows increasingly familiar with the technique of “free association”, he or she will speak whatever comes into their mind, without holding back or censoring their thoughts, fantasies or feelings. As free association proceeds, the patient may re-experience prior events in his or her life with great emotional force, at times so powerful that they literally believe that they are actually living through the experience at that moment. This is called abreaction. As a result of the abreactive experiences, and the caring and empathy provided by the therapist, the traumatic event may be recast in a new cognitive framework, and be viewed without distortion through adult eyes, enabling the patient to finally let go of the trauma and leave it behind.
The foundational elements of a successful therapy include tenacity, the development of trust, feeling understood and cared about, feeling emotionally “held” through difficult and painful moments, mutual respect, a high level of technical skill on the part of the therapist, and a shared optimism regarding the outcome. The therapist must also embody a deeply held belief in the human spirit’s capacity for growth and change. Ultimately it takes heart, and a strong belief in the patient’s (and one’s own) courage, to forge ahead into the unknown.
Benefits of Talk Therapy
- to alleviate your emotional and psychological symptoms
- to reduce entrenchment of psychological problems
- to resolve your personal issues with guidance and support
- to make personal changes
- to return you to a healthy or healthier status
- to have an objective perspective and professional opinion regarding what is causing your problems and how to effectively treat them