What Is Therapy?
Therapy, also known as counseling or psychotherapy, is a type of mental health care that helps with various disorders. During a therapy session, you meet with a therapist to discuss your problems and find ways to make positive changes. The term “therapy” is broad and covers several types of mental health services:
- Psychoanalysis: This therapy focuses on changing how you think, feel and act by exploring your hidden fears and motivations.
- Cognitive therapy: During a cognitive therapy session, you work with a therapist to turn negative thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. This type of therapy includes cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavior therapy.
- Humanistic therapy: This type of therapy emphasizes the importance of leading a fulfilling life. If you choose humanistic therapy, you’ll work with a therapist to maximize your full potential.
- Holistic therapy: Mental illness treatment works best when it’s customized based on an individual’s unique needs. Holistic therapy combines several treatment approaches to ensure a better outcome.
What Is Self-Treatment?
Self-treatment is the use of self-help techniques to improve your mental health. It’s not a replacement for professional therapy, but it can help you make great strides as you recover from a mental illness. Many people rely on self-treatment to manage their symptoms, including individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders.
Self-treatment is helpful if you’re waiting to see your therapist or need help managing your symptoms between therapy appointments. Once you begin your self-therapy journey, you may use the following techniques to improve your mental health:
- Self-reflection: Self-reflection lets you think carefully about your thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. While reflecting on your life, you may gain more insight into why you behave the way you do. Once you identify problematic behaviors, you have the opportunity to change them.
- Reading self-help books: If you’re interested in self-therapy, you can read a self-help book from time to time. These books cover a wide range of topics, from the underlying causes of mental illness to stories of recovery written by celebrities and other prominent individuals. For many people, a good self-help book is a valuable tool for learning how to cope with life’s challenges or better understand mental health conditions.
- Journaling: Journaling is one of the most common self-help interventions, as it’s inexpensive and easy to do. When you write about your emotions or experiences, you can reflect on your behavior and think about what you’d do differently in the future.
- Mobile apps: One of the newest types of self-therapy work is using mobile apps to track mental health symptoms or discover more about yourself. These apps typically come with worksheets, mental health assessments and other digital tools to help you improve your mental health.
- Online courses: An online course can help you learn more about yourself and identify ways to eliminate negative thought patterns or habits. If self-help books aren’t for you, online courses may be helpful.
There are as many ways to self-treat as there are people in the world. Unfortunately, too often, how we seek to alleviate stress or manage our moods is unhelpful and can even worsen our situations. That’s why you should consider professional help in addition to your self-therapy activities. In the end, you don’t have to go it alone if you’re looking for help dealing with life’s challenges. In this case, the wise saying, “No man is an island,” is a true sentiment.
The Benefits of Therapy vs. Self-Treatment
Benefits of Therapy for Mental Health
Taking the opportunity to explore negative emotions and thoughts can result in a sense of catharsis or release. Additionally, confronting negative thoughts and emotions allows us to explore alternate, healthier ways of thinking and feeling. Professional feedback can be invaluable when trying to set and work toward goals. Have you ever lost motivation halfway through a project and wished you knew how to get it back? Experts can help with learning how to self-motivate.
Research has demonstrated that participating in one therapy session can significantly reduce symptomatic behavior. One study revealed that up to 65% of individuals who participated in one to seven psychotherapeutic sessions experienced significant symptom relief. Moreover, mental health experts have the knowledge and tools you can use to make positive changes and learn how to make them stick.
Professional therapy also has these benefits:
- Meeting with a therapist regularly gets you into the habit of taking care of your mental health.
- Therapists are unbiased individuals with an ethical obligation to treat you respectfully. During a therapy session, you don’t have to worry about judgmental family members or friends criticizing you or making you feel your mental health condition is your fault.
- Therapists are objective. Unlike family members, who may give advice based on their own personal interests, a therapist offers objective advice tailored to your unique situation.
- Working with a therapist helps you improve your communication skills, which may help you build better relationships with family members, friends and acquaintances.
- When you commit to therapy, you may feel better about yourself and your ability to make good decisions.
Benefits of Self-Treatment for Mental Health
Self-treatment also has many benefits. For one thing, it’s inexpensive. You can buy used self-help books for just a few dollars each or download the free trial version of a mental health app on your phone. This makes it much easier to work on your mental health.
Self-therapy is also convenient. You can engage in self-therapy activities at any time of the day, making it more likely to stick with them. You don’t have to worry about seeing a therapist at a specific time or canceling an appointment if you don’t feel well or have to work late unexpectedly.