Psychotherapy (or therapy for short) is a scientifically supported process that will teach you about how your mind works.
Scientifically validated approaches will help you to understand the connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Through the process of therapy, your psychologist will help you learn adaptive coping strategies; identify unhelpful thinking patterns exacerbating psychological distress; and how to manage these so you can live a fulfilling life. Psychologists use evidence-based approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy among other approaches.
Have you ever had any of the following thoughts about going to therapy?
Myth 1: I can manage myself – I don’t need therapy
At some point we have all felt stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. These are part of the human condition none of us are immune to.
There are times we can manage these issues on our own by talking to friends, reading books, making life changes or taking classes. Other times, we may notice patterns that we haven’t been able to successfully change on our own, or our issues become overwhelming and start to impact on our ability to manage the difficulties they can place on our relationships, work and wellbeing. In some cases, stress, anxiety and depression can jeopardize our health and wellbeing.
Therapy can be a quick and effective way to overcome any emotional or behavioural issues that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Sure, sometimes, you can get better on your own, but in some cases, a therapist can help you get quicker and more effective, long-lasting results. Psychologists specialize in how people process thoughts and emotions, and how these processes are linked to our behaviour. A psychologist can teach you skills to manage stress and emotional difficulties.
Myth 2: Once I start therapy, I’ll have to go forever
During therapy, your psychologist will work with you to identify your goals, monitor your progress, and evaluate results. Because psychologists teach you skills to manage difficult emotions effectively, good therapy has an end date so you can implement these outside of therapy and ‘be your own therapist’.
Because therapy has a goal, when your goal is met, you will naturally phase out of therapy.
Myth 3: Therapy doesn’t work
There are instances where people take the leap, go to therapy and have a bad experience; it’s understandable that they would think therapy is useless.
Unfortunately, these bad experiences can permeate the stories circulating in society. To think about it slightly differently; if you went to a bad medical specialist, you wouldn’t necessarily assume going to doctors is a waste of time, rather, you’d find a different specialist.
Myth 4: Therapy is only for people with serious mental health issues
There’s no doubt psychotherapy is beneficial in severe situations, however, it’s also incredibly valuable in treating moderate mental health issues. Approaching mental health with a preventative mindset can allow you to catch and manage downward trends in your psychological wellbeing before they become bigger problems. If you catch these problems early, you may need less work and treatment for these issues to resolve.
Myth 5: Talking about my feelings and replaying my childhood is a waste of time
Not all clients will present to therapy with issues that will require delving into childhood issues. While therapy provides a safe space to freely voice and process your emotions, psychologists don’t just listen to make you feel heard. Psychologists also listen for patterns in your thinking, emotional responses, and behaviours. While talking about your feelings is part of the process, therapy involves learning and building skills to manage emotional difficulties.
The goal of therapy is for you to leave with the ability to recognise patterns in yourself and implement the taught tools and strategies on your own to prevent further decline in mental health.
These are some of the situations that can be addressed in therapy:
- When your mental health is leading to physical harm (eg, you’re suicidal, bingeing or restricting calories, using substances in an a way that’s affecting your health);
- When your thoughts, feelings or behaviours hold you back from functioning normally (eg insomnia, avoidance of things you typically enjoy);
- When everyday challenges or focusing on work or studies becomes difficult;
- When you have overwhelming feelings of sadness or hopelessness;
- When you feel anxious most of the time.
Author: Tara Pisano, BA (Psych) (Hons), M Psych.
Tara Pisano is a Brisbane psychologist with a special interest in early intervention in adolescents and young adults, as this is when three quarters of mental health conditions emerge. In her practice, she draws on a range of evidence-based therapies such as CBT, DBT, IPT, ACT and Motivational Interviewing, to promote recovery and positive outcomes.
To make an appointment with Tara Pisano, try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.
- Brazier, Y. (2020). What is Psychotherapy? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156433#a-good-therapist
- Frey, E. (2018). How Therapy Actually Works and 5 Myths about Therapy Debunked. https://medium.com/kip-blog/5-myths-about-therapy-debunked-17e7fdd8b8a5