What makes people to turn to psychotherapy? Perhaps your familiar ways of doing things and coping with situations have interacted with recent events in such a way that you now turn to professional support? Perhaps the difficulties which you seek to address are recognized as having been around for some time? Possibly, you could sufficiently cope or get around these difficulties so far but feel that you now need to change?
Psychotherapy can also be a useful way of supporting personal development, accessing and developing behavioural, existential and spiritual dimensions of your life; developing a greater sense of who you are and changing some of the ways that you do things. Psychotherapy is also available for addressing matters which we would rather not have to face or that we struggle to deal with. Below, I have written about some of the things that bring people to seek psychological help:
Depression: The experience of depression can range from low mood to extreme isolation, a loss of hope and motivation that gets in the way of moving forward. These are some of the symptoms of unipolar depression, which is the kind that people more commonly seek help with. Bipolar depression is different in that the person alternates between lows and highs. With any depression, prescriptive medication is available that can alleviate some of the symptoms. Psychotherapy regards medication to not fully solve the problem since underlying causes are not sufficiently addressed, and sets out to work on finding and treating these causes; sometimes along with prescribed medication and in some cases as the sole form of treatment.
Anxiety: Anxiety is physical as well as psychological, and there are several different treatments that claim to support anxiety suffering. Cognitive approaches are popular as they set out to address and adjust your thinking in a way that aims to make you more relaxed. Medication, too, is commonly prescribed with the aim to achieve a similar outcome. Psychotherapy, whilst also addressing your thinking, aims for longer-term treatment; to better understand your feelings behind the anxious expressions, to learn about how they came about and to develop your capacity for taking care of the side of you that needs caring.
Personal struggles: Lack of confidence, low self-esteem and conflicted ambivalence are common causes for seeking therapy. Without enough confidence we feel unsupported and go into some sort of hiding. For some, this feeling has been around forever; whilst for others, such feelings come and go; at times we might feel better again, either because of a positive life-event or because we simply do. When confidence ebbs, we are left disappointed and desperate for a less burdened life to shape up. Stress too, has a tendency to come and go, and a lot of the time we can manage our stress sufficiently to get by. Whatever the struggle you find yourself in, the clue to the treatment lies in the symptoms; there is something inside of you that is seeking something else, and therapy sets out to finding out about what that is and to making you more robust.
Relationships: Relationships seem to be inherently difficult at times. Living in isolation can be difficult too; and sometimes we seek to be in relationships to escape our loneliness, and sometimes we are in a relationship and feel more isolated than ever. As well as intimate (or lack of intimate) relationships we are also in relationship with family-members or colleagues etc. Hence, in therapy we do not solely discuss any single relationship: we discuss your general ways of relating. That way, you can enrich your knowledge about some of the things that go into your particular way of relating and with this knowledge you stand to know more about what goes on in some of the troubled relationships that you seek to change so that you can have more of a say in how these situations should be different.
Existential difficulties: Existential thought, sometimes referred to as existential dilemma, can arrive at any time in our lives. Sometimes the same thought returns and other times it feels like a new consideration weighing down on you. With the passing of time, disappointments build up behind us whilst hopes and aspirations may position itself someplace on the horizon ahead. Sometimes we are faced with making important decisions, such as where to live and who to live with, and whether to start a family, or struggling to conceive a family. Change, is a common theme here, which is why psychotherapy sets out to develop an understanding of your part in it; enabling you to become less the victim of circumstance and more of an agent of change.
Bereavement: Going through bereavement is an experience unique for everyone. Bereavement is commonly understood as experiencing the loss of someone close to you. They might have suddenly left you, their departure may have taken a long time, or we may be talking about someone who you expect to lose sometime in the future. We may be looking at someone who has passed away, or perhaps we are talking about someone who, perhaps inexplicably, left for whatever other reason. A less commonly considered understanding of bereavement refers to the loss of part of you, such as childhood innocence; something in you which seem to have changed your life forever. Processing bereavement in therapy can help you to connect with your loss and illuminate whether and how you want to move forward.
Anger management: The term ‘anger management’ is best reserved for courses and treatments that focuses specifically on the expression and/or control of anger in order to reduce problematic situations derived from angry outbursts. Whilst psychotherapy addresses the issue of expression and control, it does not regard such as the problem itself; because, rather than considering the angry expression the problem, it considers the problem to be located someplace behind this expression. Behind the angry person, there is presumably someone yearning to express themselves in ways that are not causing rifts between people in social situations. This person may have experienced repeated anger during their childhood or, conversely, have the seemingly opposite experience of not being allowed to voice their frustration in the presence of their family. Both situations create an imbalance, and it is this balance which psychotherapy addresses.