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.
What is psychotherapy and how can it help you achieve your dreams? Continue reading to find out.
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What Is psychotherapy?
Before we go further, let’s define psychotherapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, psychotherapy is “talk therapy.”
Generally speaking, psychotherapy is a series of sessions with a therapist who helps you “identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behavior.”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- You can get help from other people. You’ll identify a support network and if you don’t have one, you’ll develop one.
- You have strengths; you’ll identify them and ways to use them for positive improvement.
- There are certain things that trigger your problematic behaviors. You’ll identify your triggers.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The American Psychological Association (APA) highlights the difference between CBT and psychoanalysis.
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
|||^||Bradley University: Mental health in America|
|||^||National Institute of Mental Health: Psychotherapies|
|||^||Healthyway: Stress Isn’t All in Your Head: Here’s How It Can Affect Your Physical and Emotional Health|
|||^||World Psychiatry: Pragmatic randomized controlled trial of long‐term psychoanalytic psychotherapy for treatment‐resistant depression: the Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS)|
|||^||American Psychological Association: Understanding psychotherapy and how it works|