Therapy. The word itself has become nearly synonymous with psychological counseling. But in actuality, there are many different types of therapy. And that’s true even in the realm of mental health.
Can everybody use some therapy? Can everyone benefit? Perhaps you know a few people you think would do well to seek it. Perhaps you’ve even considered it yourself. But how do you know when therapy is a good idea? And how do you decide what kind of treatment is best?
Reasons for Reaching Out
People seek therapy for many different reasons. Moreover, some types of therapy are partiularly well-suited to dealing with certain issues. It pays to give some thought to what you want from the experience. And it also pays to know what kinds of interventions are might best suit a particular need.
There are times in life when you feel you just have to talk to someone. But not just anyone. Someone who’ll listen without judgment. And someone you hope will understand. And there are certain forms of “talk therapy” are particularly well-tailored for this.
There are therapies specifically designed to help folks who’ve experienced a significant trauma or loss (e.g., grief counseling, EMDR, desensitization, trauma-focused story relating, etc., to name only a few). And there are therapies better suited for helping to develop or maintain relationships, resolve communication problems, encourage healthy self-assertion, and ameliorate debilitating social or other forms of anxiety.
Sometimes therapy is all a person needs. But sometimes medication is necessary. Even when that’s the case, therapy most often plays an adjunct role. There’s plenty of evidence that outcomes are better when proper therapy accompanies drug treatment.
One Major Challenge for Getting the Right Kind of Help
In our times, many people’s problems are more related to their dysfunctional habitual ways of coping. (See: Introduction section of Character Disturbance.) It’ their peronality or character that’s really the problem. Moreover, partners in relationships with such folks experience unique problems, too. (See: Introduction section of In Sheep’s Clothing and Overcmoning Gaslighting Effects.) Both disturbed characters and their aggrieved relationship partners need special kinds of therapy. Sadly, all too often, neither access the kind of intervention that can really help. (That’s the main reason I wrote my books, post articles on this blog, do so much training, and afford folks both individual and adjunct consultations.)
Folks who’ve been in relationships with the kind of character I describe in In Sheep’s Clothing can sometimes experience therapy-induced trauma when they seek counseling. That happens when a therapist untrained in such matters misinterprets the nature of the trauma their client has sustained or is successfully manipulated by a skilled impression-manager. Overcoming and moving on from a toxic relationship can be particularly challenging. Survivors need specialized help overcoming gaslighting effects and reclaiming their life. (See: Moving on After an Abusive Relationship.) (See also: How Did We End Up Here?)
Not all disturbed characters are hopeless. It all depends on where a person lies on the character disturbance spectrum. Still, a special kind of therapy is necessary to help a integrity-impaired individual mature in character. The right kind of therapy certainly isn’t magic and can’t work miracles. The process is often long and arduous. And it requires just the right combination of personal motivation, artful therapeutic confrontation and positive re-direction. But it can make all the difference in the world for an individual who needs to make some significant changes in the kind of person they are.
Some Things Worth Consideration
Some folks seek therapy even though from a mental and behavioral health standpoint, they don’t really need to. That is, they’re fairly well-adjusted to start with. Such folks can use various types of psychotherapy as a way of growing personally or even spiritually. And its a way of being more consciously aware, as opposed to letting old and sometimes maladaptive habits drive your behavior. A trusting relationship holds the key.
So, do we all need therapy? Perhaps not. But perhaps the better question is: could most of us benefit from a little therapy? I think the answer to that question is a definite “yes.” And I’ll be having more to say about getting the right kind of help.