Avatar Author 23 Aug 2023

How Effective is Self-Therapy? A realistic guide for beginners

There are people who require mental health assistance but somehow feel restricted to take an actionable step. People usually enter the world of therapy in order to gain inner wholeness, overcome reservations and deal with their problems effectively. There are many ways in which one can accomplish that, the most traditional one is going to a therapist. But what if you could be your own therapist? Wondering how that works? There are a lot of reasons why people cater to self-therapy, the main reasons being geographical location, low-income status, or difficult access to therapeutic resources. Therefore, for a person who is unable to access a therapist for some reason or the other, is self-help or self-therapy the best option for them? Keep reading to find out!

Self-Therapy: Meaning 

The concept of self-therapy broadly refers to the idea of treating one’s own psychological or emotional issues by using different therapy techniques, all without the assistance of a professional. The term is essentially psychotherapies that we conduct on ourselves without the intervention of a professional therapist. Some of the ways in which self-therapies are practiced are achieved through books, online courses, step-by-step guides, and various other online free tools that are available. These self-help methods help you learn emotional skills and navigate relationships and life situations more effectively. In such cases, self-therapy can be highly effective and have a positive impact on your life.

Self-therapy cannot be considered a replacement for a professional therapist as there are many pieces of a professional session with a therapist that cannot be replicated via self-therapy. However, self-reflection remains a goal in self-therapy as well as therapy administered by a professional. Post your therapy session, it is up to you to self-reflect, and clear your thoughts to move towards the solution. Think of self-therapy as all of the above things except someone else helping you along the way. In self-therapy, you are your own therapist where you seek clarity and ask questions to yourself to understand yourself better.

There are many reasons why people prefer the self-therapy approach. Some may feel they don’t have enough time to spend or they can’t leave their homes or some may have a bad financial situation that is preventing them from having access to therapy. And now that we are talking about self-therapy if you were to take a step like that you must have a well-guided approach towards it.

How Effective is Self-Therapy?

Before going into the psychological findings that represent self-therapy vis-à-vis its effectiveness among people, it is crucial to understand that the likeliness of its effectiveness will depend on your unique symptoms and challenges as well as other sources you are using.

In 2017 there was a literature review that investigated how effective a self-guided internet cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) is for symptoms of depression. The review revealed that roughly 5 to 11 sessions of ICT were in fact effective enough to bring about a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression among the participants. The review was conducted over 13 studies that involved more than 3800 participants.

Another small study conducted in 2021 also explored the effectiveness of a self-guided virtual form of CBT and attempted to study people with panic disorder. The results revealed that 4 weeks of self-guided intervention actually helped people experience fewer or less intense symptoms.

Those who learn self-therapy also inculcate useful skills like CBT skills that one can apply to themselves to keep happy and healthy. You can easily learn many skills from CBT either with the help of your therapist or by finding an elaborate guide online. Skill building is one of the areas where self-help techniques really work. But then ideally the usage of all these self-therapy techniques runs parallel with your therapy sessions. The reason is that a professional will be there to give you a different perspective and guide you all through the way. A professional therapist can help you with a step-by-step guide to work on yourself as they process the information, we give them and build a trustworthy relationship with us. With the help of a therapist, you will have realizations and tools to help yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.

Such findings definitely indicate that self-therapy is beneficial for certain mental health conditions. However, there isn’t much material to critique the technique of self-therapy. Therefore, it’s vital to understand that while self-therapy can help you be more honest and open with your emotions, it can also prove detrimental if it is misguided.

A self-guided therapy can be successfully performed only when you know what you are doing. Without proper knowledge of the same, you might end up messing up the process of your psychological intervention.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Therapy: Things to remember

Usually, people who opt for self-therapy know what they’re signing up for either through their own research or their natural ability to look at things differently. However, they might be others who are struggling to understand self-therapy and how to apply the learnings in their lives. Having said that sometimes self-therapy exists to supplement your current session or make yourself feel better if you are having a bad day. There are other cases of course that need more personal attention in order to find mindfulness and wholeness from within. So if you’re going to guide yourself through the process of recovery you must make sure to follow the steps given:

Step 1- Understand the ambit of your problem. Is it a small problem or a big problem? Think of it as understanding your work or school assignment, is it something that can be done overnight or something which needs days of preparation? Once you understand what you’re dealing with it will be easier for you to comprehend if you can do this on your own or with some help.

Step 2- The second step is to study the problem from a deeper level. Like you would make subheads for your project, try splitting your problem into 2 parts, the feelings part and the action part. Once you understand the difference and the similarities you can start working towards taking actionable steps.

Step 3- The most vital step is to understand your emotions and feelings that are on the backdrop of your problem. Say your problem is a behavioral one, then you should try finding out the feelings that are causing such problematic behaviour.

These are all important aspects of self-therapy that one should consider before signing up for it. Although, sometimes it can be overwhelming and draining to do all of this on your own. So, if you feel stuck, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Signs you need to see a therapist instead of self-therapy

Confused about your goals and whether or not your efforts are working.

You feel overwhelmed by situations and emotions.

You are unable to go on about your day-to-day and there’s a visible impact on your performance at work or school

Use of substances as a coping mechanism.

Struggle with relationships, sleep, or appetite.

Gone through a very traumatic life event like death or divorce

In case you have thoughts of self-harm or self-isolation.

If you can’t find the sunshine, then be the sunshine! Yes. Self-therapy can prove to be beneficial in our lives in many ways but it should be borne in mind that having a second person, a second perspective in the process makes it easier and more effective. Now with the advent of technology help can be received from the comfort of your home. Therefore, many barriers that initially stopped people from going to therapy are now being lifted. A therapist is a specialist in this field and only she will know the right way to guide you. The best way to go about it is the perfect blend of self-therapy and therapy from a professional.

Food for thought much? If you enjoyed this article and have questions to ask, please fire away your queries to us. Drop an email at info@counselindia.com. Counsel India specializes in providing curated courses on various fields in psychology that are practical and have an assured job safety feature! To know more, contact us today or give us a missed call at 9599082966

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