How Does Psychotherapy Help
The biggest question in psychotherapy is how does it help people overcome their challenges? Every time someone walks into a psychotherapist’s office they want to know that they are not wasting their time.
Therefore, we want to go through how psychotherapy helps patients improve their mental health. To be clear, what we are talking about is not a miracle cure that happens overnight. Instead, it is a long-term solution to your challenges.
For example, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) talks about different ways to combat OCD behavior. There is a perception even by the government that medicines and talk therapy have the same ability to heal people.
While medicine can provide a necessary bump in the quality of a patientâ€™s life initially, the only way to work through this issue long-term is to talk it out. Most people cannot use medicines as a replacement for life.
Especially when the NIHM research specifically states how talk therapy is more effective than pharmaceutical drugs.
Understanding how this works is what we discuss below.
How Psychotherapy Helps
Changing Your Brain– After years of analyzing the neuroscience behind psychotherapy, scientists have learned a number of interesting things about how the brain works.
Particularly interesting is the research into how stress reduction and shifting negative to positive views provides an Oxytocin infusion for healthy individuals.
For example, women with personality disorders show increased amygdala activity. By providing them with oxytocin they had a lower amount of activity when shown pictures of angry faces. This was in comparison to women not provided with the infusion.
By using psychotherapy to decrease stress, patients receive a natural boost to their oxytocin levels.
Stories– So, how exactly does psychotherapy change the structure of the brain? This is done by re-writing the patient’s internal narration of their lives. As psychotherapist Susan Vaughn states, we all have ”predominant story patterns” and ”core stories” about our lives.
They dictate how we feel about our current place in life. By understanding the stories we tell each ourselves, we can reach an understanding of what causes the most pain in our lives.
Therefore, when someone is depressed it is because their story does not match their reality. The conflict needs to be resolved, so they feel better about their life. Which brings up the next point.
Authentic-Being– At the core of everything we are and believe is a true self. As Psychology Today discusses, this is the true identity connect with most in life. We form this identity as early as 2-3 years old.
Then as the brain matures we either act in alignment with that authentic-being or do not. It is sort of a series of plays. The real play is your true self. When you are acting in someone elseâ€™s play then you start to feel off-balance.
These other plays are the ones you portray to the world. When the difference becomes too great then your character can become angry and depressed.
Shakespeare might have said it best when he said, â€œAll the world is a stage, and the people merely players.â€ Do you play to your true self?
Psychotherapy is more than talking. It is the ability to have a true conversation with yourself to get a better understanding of your true meaning in life. Therefore, if you wish to get a long-term solution to your challenges, you need to have a long-term system for doing so.
Psychotherapists help you reframe the questions that matterÂ most to your life, so you can begin to live your life in a more constructive and true way.
If you need help with this dialogue, then feel free to call our office at 847-824-8366. We are here to help.