What does psychotherapy mean to you? There are many misconceptions and stigmas surrounding therapy and mental health in general. This article will provide you with a better understanding of this therapy and how it can help you, even if you don't think you need it.
We have all seen what therapy is like on TV and in the movies: a disturbed individual lying down on a sofa, the therapist asks a few questions and the person starts getting flashbacks of his/her childhood; or a couple sitting in a room screaming at each other with a therapist in the middle telling them that everything they are doing in the room is healthy.
Is this all true? What does actual therapy look like, what purpose does it serve and how exactly does it help?
What is psychotherapy and what purpose does it serve?
It is a talk therapy that aims to help people get a better understanding of their own psychology: i.e. their motivations and personality, how they think (both conscious and subconscious thoughts), and how they act as a result of their psychology.
People generally take up therapy as a means of overcoming certain psychological issues (depression, anxiety, OCD etc.), but is can also be used to gain better self-awareness and skills to live better lives.
There are many different types of therapy. Each of them trying to help people understand their psychology with a particular nuanced approach. Some methods, such as psychoanalysis, will try to uncover subconscious thought processes by exploring your dreams and childhood experiences. Other approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), try to teach people how to catch untrue, negative thoughts and find motivation to improve themselves.
There is also an approach called integrative psychotherapy, where a therapist pulls elements from different kinds of therapy in order to best suit a particular client’s profile and needs.
How does it help?
When going through a difficult time in our lives, the first response we usually have is to try and solve things by ourselves. We try to solve the immediately actionable pain points, and manage the other difficult issues by pushing them away, or just choosing to live with them.
As the issues persist, we might try asking our friends and family for advice, but oftentimes we don’t feel that they understand and might even feel that we are being judged.
As time passes, the stress from those difficult issues build up and starts to affect our daily function despite our attempts to relieve it (by exercising, going for massages, or taking a vacation to relax). We are stuck in a place in our lives that we absolutely hate, but have no idea how to move on.
During a time like this, therapy provides an avenue where you can feel heard, understood and cared for. It then teaches us techniques to break down all that clutter in our mind so that we can see things with a clearer perspective. When we are able to do that, we can learn effective ways of communication (with ourselves and with others) to bring about change in our lives.
Is therapy actually similar to how it’s shown in the movies?
Just like in the movies, therapy is typically conducted in a room with couches and sofas to facilitate discussions. It is indeed an avenue for releasing the issues that we have hidden deep within us. In some sessions you might go through very sensitive issues and get deeply emotional. Meanwhile other sessions can just be about recognizing positive things that have happened to you recently and being grateful about your growth.
Movies unfortunately don’t do a good job of representing the skills, such as self-awareness and communication, that are developed through therapy. Pop culture makes it easy to think of psychotherapy as simply having someone to talk to. That is merely the most basic aspect of therapy.
The substantive benefits of therapy are changes in our thought processes and behaviours. These changes are the main objective of therapy, helping us address the core of an issue.
Lastly, some movies might give us the idea that therapy is a waste of time or is only used by a supporting character who is “weak” or “weird”. This can’t be further from the truth. Therapy can help anyone, even people who are successful and happy, to live a more balanced life. What is important is finding the right therapist for you. It is important to chat with a therapist first and get to know how they conduct their sessions before working with them. Read this article to learn how to find the right therapist for you.
Very few people or places in this world can offer the psychological safety and personal insights that a good psychotherapist can.
Our mission at RingMD is to make therapy accessible to everyone in the world so that people can live better lives. The next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, consider messaging one our providers and find out for yourself if psychotherapy is anything like what you see in the movies!
If you're thinking "I need a therapist near me" but dont know where to start, try the RingMD therapist directory. We will help you find the right therapist for YOU!