The Role Of Psychotherapy In Mental Well-being: What You Should Know

The role of Psychotherapy in Mental Well-being: what you should know

Not too long ago, people who were undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment were afraid to say that they went to a psychologist for fear of being stigmatized. Fortunately, in recent years this trend appears to be reversing. Going to therapy, little by little, loses that shell that characterized the therapeutic process as something to distrust, mysterious, or only necessary to “treat crazy people.” 21st century societies increasingly demand more from psychology as a necessary discipline to address the mental health challenges that this time has brought with it.

In fact, Nowadays, the role of psychotherapy in relation to a person’s mental well-being seems to have gained value, beyond the presence or not of psychopathology. However, some misconceptions about psychotherapy still persist. In this article we will develop this paradigm shift around the place of psychotherapy today and clarify some points that you should know about psychotherapy if you are thinking of starting a therapeutic process to improve your mental well-being.

Psychotherapy today, focused on mental well-being

Psychotherapy, just as psychology in general and other scientific disciplines have done, responds to a social need. And, just as the demands of society change over the years, so must scientific theories to explain the changing phenomena of reality.

In terms of mental health, the turn of the millennium was marked by the advent of an increase in many psychological disorders, specifically anxiety disorders, which some authors called “the silent epidemic of the 21st century.” According to the WHO, in 2019, around 300 million experienced an anxiety disorder. And it is likely that this number has fallen short: on the one hand, because not all people who suffer from a disorder are diagnosed. On the other hand, because there are many people who suffer from anxiety but do not meet the diagnostic criteria necessary for a professional to determine that they suffer, by name and surname, from an anxiety disorder.

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It’s not just for those who suffer from a disorder

These data lead us to think that the vast majority of us know someone who has at some point in their life experienced high levels of suffering due to anxiety (or any other intense emotional state). It is even very likely that someone has been oneself.

The fact that people experience firsthand the effects of anxiety, stress, depression and so many other experiences of psychological discomfort—beyond whether or not they suffer from a diagnosed disorder—is perhaps what has led to the beginning of to assess the importance of psychotherapy in the mental well-being of the general population. Pain is an intrinsic component of human life and therefore, having the possibility of accessing psychotherapeutic treatment can be extremely beneficial for any person.

The process is not linear

Now, what can you expect, in advance, from a psychotherapeutic treatment? First of all, it is important to know that by going to a psychologist we can expect to achieve greater well-being in our lives in the medium and long term. However, this does not mean that therapy will progress at a consistent rate to improvement.

Psychotherapy requires that the patient or consultant be willing to approach their pain, to what initially brought him to consultation, but also to those other aspects of his life that were equally or more difficult that he tended to avoid. This is why the act of starting a process with a therapist is a gesture of courage towards oneself. Although it is inevitable, people resist getting involved in our discomfort. However, the path to mental well-being has that obligatory stop. But, in the long run, it’s worth it.

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Psychotherapy is not magic

Evidence-based psychotherapies have consistently shown that patients or clients improve significantly by remaining in treatment. This does not mean that the therapist will do magic during the consultation. There is still a kind of illusion that the psychologist is capable of offering a revealing truth to his patients, session after session, when in truth it is the patient who does much of the work. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or some third-generation therapies propose carrying out tasks outside the time of the session — such as completing records, reading short and simple bibliography proposed by the therapist to work on a certain skill, mindfulness practices, of exposure, etc.—that are the result of the patient’s effort.

…but it can be transformative

The positive effects of psychotherapy on mental well-being may be such that the process itself could be surprising to the patient. Specifically, what is surprising is the personal transformation to which it leads. A person is not the same before and after a therapeutic process.

Working with a mental health professional can help a person adopt more adaptive behaviors in their daily lives, such as learning to communicate assertively with others or to take meaningful actions even when doing so is painful. But, it can also serve to enable the person to detect, question and reorient their life purpose if necessary, work with their values, and embark on their personal projects. Definitely, Psychotherapy provides the person with the necessary tools to understand their thoughts and emotions, no matter how difficult they may be and makes it easier for you to acquire skills to decide how to act based on your experiences.