How does therapy work?
Have you ever wondered, what happens in therapy?
Would it just be a person sitting on a couch and pouring their heart out to a stranger? Or is the therapist going to swing a shiny crystal, making the client spill all of their past memories and unconscious thoughts ( suddenly, you recall reading about a peculiar theory by Sigmund Freud) . Well, the possibilities are endless and now you’re just really confused and nervous.
The society’s notion of therapy varies greatly, resulting in a lot of myths and confusion about what it really is.
What really is therapy?
Most psychological therapies are talk therapies, where the therapist tries to get an understanding of what is troubling the client and then uses different ways to approach and help with the issue.
Who should go to therapy?
Therapy isn’t only for those who have mental illnesses, but also for those coping with new environments, major life transitions, stress or even for those finding difficulty in maintaining relationships or not finding joy in things as they did before. The goal is not only to treat illness, but also to promote wellbeing in everyday life.
Now one might ask, how is therapy different from taking advice from a friend or a family member?
1. Therapy provides a safe space and is confidential. One does not need to worry about any judgement or the feeling of burdening someone. The therapist is there only to help us.
2. Therapists go through a lot of training to identify maladaptive thought patterns and help in the process of healing, helping the client in the process of self-reflection and recovery. The therapeutic relationship is very different from friendship.
3. Therapy is more scientific than being a product of opinions and biases. It provides long term value on how to deal with future situations, analysing various perspectives in making long term decisions. Also,there is a lot of research proving how important and helpful therapy is.
It’s also important to understand that therapy is of different types. While there might be different schools of thought when it comes to psychological therapies, they are all well-researched and are proven to aid in the process of well being.
Some of the different types of therapies are:
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This therapy revolves around the belief that one’s negative thoughts affect behaviour, causing trouble. The therapist works along with the client to help rewire these negative thoughts and beliefs, focusing on solutions to overcome them.
The therapist will try to explore how past experiences might influence one’s current troubles. The focus in this therapy is to identify hidden patterns or meanings in what the client says/ does, that might be contributing to the problem. The client and the therapist, together, work through these, focusing on emotional understanding and re-education.
Here, the therapist provides a supportive, empathetic environment in which the client can look at themselves in a non judgemental way, with honesty and acceptance, helping them maximize their potential.
This isn’t an exhaustive list ;there are so many other types of therapies as well, a few being dance and movement therapy, art therapy (spoiler alert: you don’t have to be good at dance or art for this) which stem from the belief that creative expression can help in the healing process and also help develop self- awareness. There are also family therapies and group therapies.
Therapy just aims to create a safe space, free of judgement and opinions. Ultimately, it is a tool which really helps individuals in trying to navigate difficult emotional and mental situations in the long run. Going to therapy is perfectly normal and it is for anyone and everyone.