Psychotherapy benefits the client in that they have a specially trained individual they can speak to in total confidence and without judgment. The applications and approaches to psychotherapy are numerous, though, and there are more benefits than having someone to air your grievances and insecurities too.

For those who are wondering whether psychotherapy is the appropriate method of treatment for them, we hope this piece is illuminating.

But before we begin to outline the present-day world of psychotherapy and the treatments which encompass this widespread practice, we thought we’d describe how psychotherapy has evolved through the ages for the better—and the ways it has stayed the same.

A Brief History of Psychotherapy

The treatment of people’s psychological or emotional difficulties can be traced back to the age of antiquity. In fact, the ancient Greeks were wise enough to identify mental illness as something other than the mark of a mischievous and malevolent force. That said, their reasoning and diagnoses were entirely off-base. Just consider the now-discarded psychological disorder of hysteria among women, which they credited to ‘wandering uterus’.

Despite these missteps on the part of the Greeks, even talk therapy was understood as being incredibly valuable then, which ought to say something about the validity of the approach. However, it wasn’t until the emergence of the Austrian neurologist Dr. Sigmund Freud that psychoanalysis emerged, and with it, the “talking cure”.

It was Freud’s work with patients of a neurotic nature that led him to the conclusion that mental illness emerged through the thoughts and memories repressed in the depths of the subconscious. He discovered that the best treatment for bringing these repressed issues to light was by talking with the patients. Through active listening and providing his interpretations of their recurring thoughts and feelings, the memories responsible for these feelings would come to the forefront.

Once the repressed memories revealed themselves to the conscious mind through practices, such as free association, ego interpretation, and dream analysis (all rooted in letting the patient speak), they could then, be treated with more therapy.

The Many, Many Misconceptions of Therapy

When we think of Freud’s patients, we often think of the famous patients who dealt with long-unresolved traumas and were often unable to function because of their conditions.

Because of long-standing stigmas, people have the wrong idea about psychotherapy and the practice of psychology in general. They think that only certain people consult a therapist, and those people are then marked for life. They’re either marked for life by debilitating mental illness, or by the fact that they’re too weak to deal with their problems on their own.

This mode of thinking only perpetuates the stigma around psychotherapy—what’s more, it also suggests that there is something flawed with those who are severely struggling with emotional issues or disorders, which is not the case either.

Many people seek therapists at one or several times in their life. Many of them are perfectly happy and healthy. One might wish to resolve minor issues and gain perspective on their experience and plans for the future. Others might be recovering from a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one, which is a loss that every person feels at some point in their life.

Are You a Narcissist if You Visit a Counselor?

Absolutely not!

Many people may think about seeing a therapist to explore issues, but they resist the urge. They don’t want to seem self-indulgent by seeking a professional to tell them things about themselves they already know or don’t need to know.

While it is true that talking about ourselves for hours and hours on end might be self-indulgent, the work you do with a therapist isn’t excessive—it is necessary. There is much value in understanding your thought processes and your actions. You can go into the world a more relaxed, comfortable person who can maybe even help others around you.

Seeking professional help isn’t narcissistic or unhealthy. It is proactive and can be of great benefit to yourself and the people you love.

Only Lonesome People Need Psychotherapy

Many people think that only those who have no one else to talk to should seek professional help. They feel that if they have a budding social life, a spouse, or a tightly knit family, there is no need for help.

Surprisingly, many patients have a strong network of loved ones in their life. While it is essential to have a healthy network of loved ones, that isn’t always enough. To expect your spouse to be your emotional support for everything you go through is unfair to them.

What’s more, their support may not be sufficient enough to help you. Psychotherapists aren’t just sympathetic ears there to tell you that you’re great. They’re professionals who can give you the skills to improve your situation or cope with life’s many challenges. They can ask you the questions and give you answers you need—answers that you might not want to hear from people in your personal life.

Approaches to Individual Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular form of psychotherapy. Rather than working to uncover and resolve the issues of your forgotten past, CBT is problem-focused, goal-oriented, and considered a short-term form of psychotherapy. It focuses on the here-and-now of your life, and how your perceptions influence your emotional response to situations.

If you suffer from mood disorders, clinical depression, phobias, PTSD, personality disorders, or struggle with substance abuse, CBT might be the most productive and cost-effective treatment for you.

Couples Counseling Isn’t Just for Unhappy Couples

Couples therapy isn’t just for couples who are on the verge of separating. Couples counseling is for those who are looking to improve communication skills, decrease emotional avoidance, and nurture one another’s best qualities.

As many know, relationships take work. Working with a professional makes the objectives more transparent and the work more manageable.

Through couples’ therapy, each individual can learn much about themselves that they can bring to other aspects of their lives—much like individual psychotherapy.