Therapy And Counseling

The Pros and Cons of Psychotherapy



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Psychotherapy is always an option for anyone who is in some kind of mental or emotional crisis, from serious mental disturbances to temporary crises such as marital problems, the death of a loved one, or job loss.

A wide variety of therapists as well as types of therapy are available to the mental health consumer today. These include a variety of licensed therapists as well as psychologists and psychiatrists. Within each of these professions, many different therapeutic modalities are available. Four major types of therapy offered include individual, couples, family, and group therapy. Many therapists will specialize in one or more of these modalities.

Within those modalities there are different therapeutic models or theories that can be applied to the client's issues. These include Behavioral psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, Humanistic psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Psychosynthesis, Rogerian therapy, Transactional analysis, and Transpersonal psychotherapy, to name a few.

Because of this diversity, it is highly likely that there is some form of therapy being offered by someone that would be helpful to you and your issues. These choices can be daunting so it is important to talk to people who have used different forms of therapy to help you make a decision. In terms of the pros of psychotherapy, many of these therapies and therapists have demonstrated some effectiveness in helping people with their mental and emotional problems.

On the other hand, there are even more options available for counseling when you consider other types of counselors, those unlicensed by the state. One can always go to a pastoral counselor, especially if you are active in a church or synagogue. Some churches have lay ministers who will talk to you and pray with you over your issues. There are many who call themselves spiritual counselors and who have a particular focus and philosophical underpinning. I think that it is necessary to use a lot of discrimination in choosing any of these non-licensed individuals. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that a psychiatrist who charges $300 an hour will be of any more help to you than a spiritual counselor who charges $40 an hour.

In terms of the cons of psychotherapy, one possibility is that it simply won't help you and you will have wasted your hard-earned money. Worse yet, it's possible that the wrong therapist could actually do you more harm than good. M. Scott Peck, in his best-selling book, "The Road Less Traveled," states in his introduction that everyone should be in therapy. Aside from the fact that the statement is self-serving as Mr. Peck is a therapist, I disagree with that statement.

Although I don't believe that a lot of therapists are harmful to their clients, there are a lot of them who certainly don't help their clients. There are millions of people around the world who live contented lives without ever stepping inside a therapist's office. Many people successfully deal with their problems as they come up. They may talk to friends or family. They may talk to their minister or other religious leader, but they never feel the need for a structured therapy experience.

I believe that ultimately we have all of the answers we seek, inside. A good therapist will successfully bring those answers out of us. But it is possible for us to find our own answers through practices such as prayer and meditation. We can pursue dreamwork and many other forms of psychological and emotional self-help. In the end, we will have to find our own answers and take the necessary actions to make changes in our lives with or without therapy.

More about this author: Bob Trowbridge

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