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When To Consider Psychotheraopy




Today's world is very complex and fast-paced, with perhaps the only reliable future being change. Human beings often have trouble adapting to the type and amount of change going on around them. The stress of everyday living often causes anxiety and discomfort that is difficult to manage.

Generally speaking, when "a person's reactions to life cause extreme discomfort, or when these unpleasant reactions or feelings last for more than a short period of time, professional help should be considered. Uncomfortable or painful feelings have a variety of origins. Many people have temporary situational problems that cause distress. Others experience problems because of unconscious and unresolved feelings from their earlier life. Others suffer from severe mental disturbances, the causes of which we are only beginning to understand. Many times, problems show up in the form of marital discord, family, turmoil, work or school uncertainties, or feelings of depression or overwhelming frustration.

Anxiety is a common symptom of distress in one's personal life. Everyone develops coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of living. These coping methods become a fixed part of a person's style of relating to others. Often, people reach a point in life where there is more pain than 'pleasure·, and they find themselves helpless to change the situation or the way they think about the situation. This is when outside professional help is so important, but what kind of help is available and appropriate?

We will now consider how psychotherapy can help with resolving and/or managing the aforementioned problems. The term Psychotherapy is the general name for a variety of psychological interventions designed to help people resolve emotional, behavioral, or interpersonal problems of various kinds and improve the quality of their lives.

No single definition of psychotherapy is accepted by all of the many schools of therapy or by every therapist. Some therapists view it as a form of treatment akin to medicine, though psychological in nature rather than biological; others see it as a form of social learning.

Some see it as a way of resolving internal conflicts stemming from early life experiences; others see it as simply changing present patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior. still others view it as a way of altering dysfunctional inter actions in couples, marital, or family systems.

Almost all therapists agree, however, on two things. One, Psychotherapy involves a personal relationship of a special kind between client and therapist, and it depends on this for its effectiveness. Two, its concern in the broadest sense is personality and behavior change, helping individuals, couples, groups, or families see, think, feel, or act differently. Where therapists and therapies differ is on what needs to be changed and how to change it. A person seeking help from a therapist wants change. They may not think they need to change. They may feel it is someone else or their situation that need changing. But whatever they see as the source of their discontent, they want to feel and/or act or manage better than they are, and a therapist agrees to help them achieve this goal.


Assumption Number One:

The First of the three major assumptions common to all therapies is that something in us or in our behavior is constricting our freedom to be ourselves and live a productively. That something may be:

  • A habitual pattern of behavior or coping that is no longer serving us well: drinking too much, attention to detail that has become rigid, anxious, and obsessive; a take-charge style that has become overbearing and authoritarian.
  • An inner conflict: over sexuality, a punitive conscience, ideals you are having trouble living up to.
  • A block in psychological development: the ability to experience, express, or manage emotions without losing control; to leave home or live independently.
  • A trauma or stressful event: losing your home or job, death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, or violence.
  • One of many problems in day-to-day living that has become particularly distressing or intractable; conflict with an employer, difficulty managing work or school.
  • A marital or family problem: constant arguing or fighting, a child who seems beyond your control.
  • A major mental illness or psychiatric disorder: depression, manic-depression, panic attacks, a phobia, psychosis, alcoholism or drug abuse.

Assumption Number Two:

At least some part the of problem is potentially under your control: that you could take steps to do something about it but that for some reason you are stuck. If what is distressing you isn’t at least partially within your ability to affect or change, the therapy won't help. It is not easy to determine what one can or cannot affect.  Many individuals upon starting therapy feel uncertain that anything, including therapy, will really help.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO STRESS THIS FEELING IS VERY COMMON WHEN STARTING THERAPY.

What people often discover once they begin therapy, however, is that they have more resources for changing their situation than they thought. Even in cases of overwhelming trauma or victimization such as incest, physical abuse, rape, or violence, they find a shattered sense of self and self-esteem can be restored; that it's possible to rebuild trust in relationships and in oneself, and to again feel in control. The purpose of therapy is to help you discover that you do have choices and options in ways to be and change the way you live your life.

This hopeful outlook toward the possibility of change is based on psychotherapy's assumption that our feelings, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, images of our self, and behavior are to a large extent the product of our life experience. All of these are learned and what has been learned can be unlearned, or modified by new learning.

Assumption Number Three:

The third major assumption is that, within limits, you have the capacity to grow, to know yourself better, and make choices that will further your development. Therapy also assumes that your development doesn't have to be at the expense of someone else's, or be motivated by trying to meet their needs and expectations. Perhaps most important, psychotherapy assumes you can take more responsibility for yourself and the choices you make.

All therapies involve some degree of both identifying and unlearning old unhealthy patterns, and learning new, more satisfying and productive ones.

Even when you can't do much about the circumstances of your life, your attitude toward your situation will have a lot to do with how ' such circumstances affect you.  Your reactions are much more under your control than you imagine, even in coping with oppressive or distressing life events such as a life-threatening illness or incapacitating injury. If you can't change what is happening to you, therapy can at least help you take some control over your inner response to it.

After reviewing the aforementioned information, you may be considering a thorough evaluation to determine if psychotherapy, personal growth counseling and/or marriage counseling can help. I recommend you first review the website link, "When to consider psychotherapy?" also review any other link you may think applies to your circumstances.

My name is Oliver (Mike) Siems, MSW, LCSW, ACSW.
My company, Personal Growth, LLC, has been providing counseling services since 1975.

Personal Growth, LLC is located at:
443 N. New Ballas Rd., Ste. 201
St. Louis, MO 63141
314 567-3040