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What is Psychotherapy? How It Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

What is Psychotherapy? How It Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

No doubt you’ve had this thought before, and maybe you’ve even voiced it in a conversation with a close friend, a family member, or yourself.

The thought goes like this: What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?

You expect and want life to go a certain way, you want to fulfill your dreams and you want success, but it’s not happening. You feel stuck in a cycle of desperation, alienation and futility.

Your life circumstances are such that you’re having trouble coping and returning to normal. The good news is there’s a kind of counseling called psychotherapy; you can use it to make a real difference in your life. According to Bradley University, 82 percent1 of people who have undergone psychotherapy found it beneficial.[1]

What is psychotherapy and how can it help you achieve your dreams? Continue reading to find out.

What Is psychotherapy?

Before we go further, let’s define psychotherapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, psychotherapy is “talk therapy.”[2]

Generally speaking, psychotherapy is a series of sessions with a therapist who helps you “identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behavior.”

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Psychotherapy isn’t just for people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Anyone can benefit from it.

How psychotherapy helps you take control of your life

Here’s the truth about psychotherapy: it’s all about you — your desires, goals, relationships, perspective, skills and agency.

You’re stuck in a pattern. You feel you’re in a bad place and you can’t get out. Through psychotherapy, you’ll pin down actionable steps to move forward.

Your counselor will help you understand the following:

  1. You are the one who can make changes to your pattern because you have the power to recognize negative tendencies and act positively. You have agency.
  2. You can figure out what brought you to this place in your life. You’ll identify past experiences, actions and behaviors that contribute to your pattern.
  3. You can get help from other people. You’ll identify a support network and if you don’t have one, you’ll develop one.
  4. You have strengths; you’ll identify them and ways to use them for positive improvement.
  5. There are certain things that trigger your problematic behaviors. You’ll identify your triggers.
  6. You can use specific techniques every day when you are triggered. These techniques are called coping skills. With cognitive-behavioral therapy, you’ll identify which coping skills are best for you.
  7. There are measurable and realistic goals you can achieve within a certain period of time. You’ll identify your goals and the steps toward achieving them.

Ultimately, taking the small steps every day and filling your self-confidence bucket will enable you to fulfill your dreams.

A dream remains a dream when it’s distant, hazy and unattainable. A dream becomes reality when you take realistic steps to achievement.

There are different types of psychotherapy. Let’s take a deeper dive into the practice.

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How cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you take action

Quickly, think of an issue that pretty much everyone must deal with. No clues! You have five seconds to identify this issue. It’s something you may be feeling right now. If you can’t figure it out now, you fail.

Did that make you feel a little stressed out? There you have it.

Stress is an issue pretty much everyone has to deal with, and it can affect your physical and emotional health: about 77 percent of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73 percent report emotional problems.[3]

To cope with stress, Dr. Lisa Herbert, who is a physician and life coach, recommends deep breathing, a gratitude journal, and counting to 10 before doing something you know will be stressful.

Herbert’s recommendations are very much in line with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Basically, CBT involves the following:

  • Identify symptoms that indicate the psychological basis of a problem: if you’re overly stressed, you may experience racing thoughts, aches and pains, muscle spasms and digestive issues, among other symptoms.
  • Identify triggers of symptoms: what is it that stresses you out? Is there a recurring scenario causing you to become overly stressed?
  • Identify coping skills that can help you deal with symptoms: coping skills can include deep breathing, positive self-talk, redirection, exercise, art, and mindfulness.
  • Identify ways to implement coping skills in the community and at home.
  • Practice coping skills regularly.
  • Discuss results and next steps with your therapist.

A key component of CBT is the identification of thoughts that lead to undesirable behaviors. You learn to recognize negative and unreasonable thoughts and to counter them through specific actions (coping skills).

Your therapist works with you to tailor coping skills to your specific needs. If needed, you’ll also identify pro-social skills, communication skills and vocational/educational skills.

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How psychoanalysis helps you unearth the root of your problems

Do you remember when you were 8 and you got in a fight with your sibling and it got physical? How many other fights do you remember? Did you ever begin to talk about your anger with your brother or sister and figure out what was causing it, or did your parents just ground you and ignore the cause of the fights?

Psychoanalysis helps you delve deep into the cause of whatever is troubling you. Somewhere along the line, you unconsciously began to develop a harmful pattern. You’ll discover the thinking processes that lead to patterns, and you’ll pinpoint what made you start thinking and acting this way to begin with.

During therapy sessions, you’ll discuss your dreams, thoughts, memories and feelings with your therapist until you understand the root of your problem. Once you recognize and understand harmful thoughts and patterns, you can begin taking the steps to change. Therapists oftentimes combine this approach with CBT and other psychotherapies.

A study published by the World Psychiatric Association revealed that patients who suffered from depression benefitted from psychoanalysis in the long term. After 42 weeks, observers and the patients themselves reported significant declines in depression levels.[4]

Through psychoanalysis, you’ll benefit from gaining a clear and objective view of yourself, like a person who is able to navigate a maze by looking at it from above. You’ll also be able to understand what certain dreams mean and why you continue to associate with certain people.

Over time, understanding and empowerment will help you heal yourself.

Psychotherapy encompasses a variety of treatment options

There are multiple kinds of psychotherapy besides psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll determine what is best for you when you first consult with your therapist.

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The American Psychological Association (APA) highlights the difference between CBT and psychoanalysis.[5]

The APA calls psychoanalysis a “humanistic” approach. CBT and its adjuncts, such as dialectical behavior therapy, furnish a practical approach to therapy, while psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy are all about in-depth conversation.

Many therapists combine practical and talk-based therapies based on your needs.

Achieve your dreams with psychotherapy

As mentioned, psychoanalysis includes careful consideration not only of your thoughts and feelings, but of your dream content and what it means about your desires.

Analyzing your dreams helps you understand your innermost unconscious tendencies. According to Freud, Carl Jung and other pioneers of psychoanalysis, dream analysis helps you understand your most fundamental needs and wishes.

Meanwhile, CBT helps you develop a practical, achievable plan for fulfilling your dreams. Answering the question, “What do you want?” is a primary component of all psychotherapies. CBT is the step-by-step approach to healing wounds, filling your confidence bucket, and grasping your goals.

To find out more about psychoanalysis, CBT, and other psychotherapies, consult with a licensed therapist.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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Last Updated on August 7, 2020

40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place

40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall

So, you want to change the world? Who says you can’t?

You’ve had the power this whole time. You just have to tap into it and embrace the ways you make changes.

You can start small or go big. The important thing is that you try. Even in little ways, we can change the world. It’s up to you to show up and make that difference.

Here are 40 acts of kindness to make the world a better place.

1. Give a Compliment

Tell someone that you care about them by complimenting them. It can be a big compliment or a small one. The point is that you share what good you see in them. That will help them develop confidence and a stronger sense of self.

2. Volunteer

There’re many reasons why doing voluntary work is good for you. Find a good cause you care about and give your time to it. Serve in some way. Volunteering transforms your hard work into other people’s happiness. This is one of the most common acts of kindness that you can do.

3. Contribute to a Charity

Similarly, charities also contribute to other people’s happiness even with minimal effort from you. If you can’t serve a charity or nonprofit, you can give financially or even raise money with a fundraiser. Volunteering and contributing to charity are acts of kindness that require sacrifice but are definitely worth it.

4. Visit Someone

People may know you care but are you present with them? It’s best to give your time to those you care about and show them that they matter to you. Go and visit them while you can. This simple act of kindness can go a long way.

5. Listen

When someone talks, are you really listening? A person will feel like you are listening if you actively respond and can repeat back what they’ve said, asking questions to further probe their problems. Regardless if you’re actively or passively listening, listening has positive effects on others, which is a step towards making the world a better place.

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6. Show Empathy

Show empathy – feel what someone else is feeling. Put yourself in their place. They may need that, and this shows that you understand what they are going through, which can help make them feel better. Showing empathy is one of the simplest yet best ways acts of kindness can manifest.

7. Point out the Positive for Someone

Not everyone can see the positive side of things, especially if they are going through very rough times. It may make their day though if you show it to them. Then, they can enjoy it, too.

8. Help Someone With Something

Do you have some skills to offer? Do you have the ability to help out? It doesn’t matter how you can help, just find some way to be of use to someone. You never know how doing so might find its way back to you. Ask how you may be of help, and it just might make someone’s day a lot better.

9. Give Input or Advice

Someone may benefit from what you know. You may have the experience that they don’t have. When you give input about something using your expertise (whether a little or a lot), you are more appreciated for doing so. Valid criticisms and feedback are always welcome, and they may even help others improve their situation.

10. Lead Others

You may now know it, but people may be looking to you as an example of what to do. You can lead them from point A to point B, maybe because you’ve gotten there yourself or because they trust you. Regardless, leading others is one of the best acts of kindness that you can do for others.

11. Promote Someone

Show off someone’s skills and their value. This will make them feel good enough as well as touched by this act of kindness. Promoting someone not only benefits them economically or financially, but it also helps them mentally and emotionally, knowing that you believe in them.

12. Solve a Problem for Someone

You don’t have to have all the answers. But if you have solved a problem for someone, they will look at you as if you do. That’s rewarding in and of itself.

13. Tell Someone That They Matter

People don’t always know their worth. Some people don’t recognize that they and what they do matter to others. If you tell them that they are worthwhile, they will feel better and be able to do better. They will look to you for strength at first, then to themselves.

14. Teach Someone a New Skill

You don’t have to be a teacher to share your knowledge. If you teach someone a new skill, they will spread the knowledge and your influence may extend to more people. This is a simple yet effective act of kindness that can help improve the world.

15. Plant a Tree, Clean up Trash, Recycle, Get Educated

Even in simple ways, taking care of the environment is important in making the world a better place. You must care about nature and its value. We are connected to nature, and nature is a big part of our world.

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16. Start a New Initiative Toward Social Good

You may not be the only one interested in an idea, but you may be the first to act on it. Lead others towards this initiative and see the goodness spread. Any initiative that benefits society will benefit the whole world.

17. Analyze if Products Are Ethical

In the current consumer culture, we often want instant gratification. But that’s not always safe or effective. We must look into the ethical practices behind the products we consume. Our consumption should be consistent with what we stand for, and we should spread the message to gain greater awareness of the right kind of products.

18. Ask Questions

This is called being considerate. When you ask someone a question, you are showing interest in and building their confidence to talk about themselves.

19. Make a New Friend

We can’t have a list of acts of kindness without including this one. Everyone needs friends. We must hold onto each other not hurt each other. Having friends means we’re no longer alone. You can share more and do more when you have a friend.

20. Positive Reinforcement

Rather than just criticizing someone for what they did wrong, praise and reward good behavior, too. This is especially useful when dealing with kids or in the workplace. Learn the benefits of positive reinforcement: Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

21. Be Honest

This may just be a simple act of kindness, but people will feel respected if you are honest with them. It may not solve everything, but it helps them know you are trustworthy and that you care about them.

22. Give Your Time

Giving your time to help others shows them that you will be there for them no matter what. Your time is the most valuable thing that you can give, and this can encourage them to give their time to others as well.

23. Be Accountable

If you make a mistake, that’s okay. No one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. But be accountable and try to make things better. This will let others know that they can rely on you.

24. Learn

Learn from someone. Listen to someone’s story, learn how someone does something, and be teachable. We can’t learn everything, so there will always be something new for us to learn.

25. Love

Love makes the world go round. Love is the ultimate manifestation of kindness. And when you love someone, let them know it. Let them feel that you are in their life for the right reasons and that you want to be there for them.

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26. Stand for Something

Society has many problems, and there are many causes to choose from. Find something you are passionate about such as a social justice issue, environment, animals, etc. The list goes on. What’s important is that you show conviction toward a good cause.

27. Write a Note of Encouragement

A nice note can turn someone’s day around. As long as what you wrote is from the heart, the recipient will feel that it is and will feel better than before.

28. Say “Thank you”

Saying “thank you” is often taken for granted. Such an act of kindness is often overlooked, but it’s still as important as before. Saying “thank you” is how you can make some feel appreciated and supported.

Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

29. Heal Someone

If you can heal someone, you can make the world a better place. You can heal them emotionally, physically, or spiritually and if you heal them, they will never forget it. You will feel healed in your heart, too.

30. Be an Advocate

Stand up for someone or something. Sometimes, it’s not easy to do the right thing, but if you want to show that you care, you have to put a stop to any form of injustice. You may be the only one to take that stand. Know that it matters.

31. Raise Someone

Raising a human being is just one contribution that you can make in the world. This may be more complicated than the other acts of kindness, but it’s just as impactful. You can leave a legacy on the person who grows up under your care.

32. Embrace Community

“No man is an island.” It’s a common saying but it speaks the truth. We are meant to be social beings in need of each other. That is why we have communities. You can help a community flourish through what you bring to the table.

33. Hold Space for Someone

This means having no judgment. It is unconditional care and support without trying to solve someone else’s problems. It may be kinder than talking over them or taking over. Let them be, and let them know you’re there.

34. Forgive

Grudges hold us back. Second chances give us more life. It’s not just for them, it’s for us. When the situation is appropriate, be the bigger person and you will have a better life. Forgiveness may not come easy, but you’ll find that it transforms everything it touches.

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Learn How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide).

35. Give a Gift

If you give a gift, someone will have something that makes them think of you. They also learn that they are deserving of kindness, and they may feel good about themselves.

36. Keep Your Promises

People look to you for consistency. They want to know that they can count on you. Show them they can by keeping your promises.

37. Just Be Nice

Other acts of kindness require more effort, but you can just be nice and this will contribute to having a better world. The important thing is to always be aware of your words and actions.

38. Make Others a Priority

When was the last time you checked in with someone else and their wellbeing? How high up the list do you put them? Make them a priority and show them that they are being heard.

39. Meet Someone Where They’re at

You may not understand someone’s point of view or see a lack of experience compared to your own. But you can still meet them where they are and how they are still important to you. Find ways to use this to teach them how to be better. Find grace, patience, and understanding.

40. Save a Life

If someone’s in need and you answer the call, that simple act can change everything. Sometimes, the little things we do can already save or change the lives of others. Make the world a better place by saving those within it. This is the greatest thing you can do with all your talents, money, and time.

Final Thoughts

Can you think of more ways to make the world a better place? Then do it. Invite others to do it with you, too. This will change the world, but it will also change you. You will become happier and healthier to have done so.

Use this list anytime you need a good idea or a simple reminder of what you can do. No matter what you do, you are a hero. How you live is your legacy.

Featured photo credit: Andrea Tummons via unsplash.com

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