Does Everyone Need Therapy?

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Has anyone ever told you that you needed to get some therapy? Maybe you’ve encountered a few people yourself who it seemed could really benefit from a visit or two to a mental health professional. So, is everyone in some way in need of treatment? Would we all do well to see a therapist?

People seek therapy for a lot of different reasons. In many ways, there are as many reasons to seek therapy as there are types of therapy. Some people seek professional counsel merely to work through situational stress, and there are certain forms of therapy that are particularly well-tailored for this. Others seek therapy to address they difficulties they’ve had forming, nurturing, or maintaining relationships, and there are therapies well-designed for just those purposes. Folks seek therapy for communication difficulties, difficulties with healthy self-assertion, or debilitating social anxiety. Whatever your concern may be, the chances are there’s some type of therapy available that can help you deal with it.

Sometimes therapy is the primary treatment someone receives for a problem. But sometimes therapy serves more of an adjunct role, such as when medication is the primary treatment. Of course, there are times when research suggests it’s best to combine medically-based interventions with therapy because the benefits of both services combined outweigh the benefit usually derived from either alone. Such is commonly the case when it comes to treating problems with depression and/or anxiety.

As I assert in my books, we live in times when many people’s psychological problems are more related to dysfunctional aspects of their habitual ways of coping — i.e. their personality or character — as opposed to their unconscious fears and “hang-ups,” or their overactive and oppressive conscience. There’s a special kind of therapy that appears to work best when it comes to fostering personality change or character growth. Such therapies certainly aren’t magic and can’t work miracles. When it comes to making basic changes in the core beliefs we hold, the attitudes we embrace, and the very way in which we’ve long preferred to view both others and the world and to deal with them, the process is often long and arduous. It also requires just the right combination of personal motivation, artful therapeutic confrontation and positive re-direction. Still, getting the right kind of therapy can make all the difference in the world for an individual who needs to make some significant changes in the kind of person they are.

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There are some who seek therapy even though from a mental and behavioral health standpoint, they don’t necessarily need it. That is, they’re fairly well-adjusted to start with, having no major issues with the ways they typically see and do things and no particular problems in their life. Still, some of these folks find the idea of seeking therapeutic counsel appealing. They regard psychotherapy as a way of growing both personally and even spiritually. It’s been fairly well established that a trusting relationship is key to personal growth, and many find just the right opportunity within the context of a therapeutic relationship.

Over my many years as a therapist, I’ve served many individuals who didn’t really have to avail themselves of my services. Sometimes I even scratched my head in wonder about why they were coming to see me. But these folks found in therapy just the right venue to grow, both in self-awareness and in awareness of life’s biggest issues. Helping these individuals process the issues they needed to address for their own growth was always growth-fostering for me as well. There’s nothing quite as intimate as a sound therapeutic relationship, and growth always seems to be the result of sharing within such a relationship. It’s a growth not only in awareness but also in one’s sense of self. And by its very nature, it’s a growth that necessarily has to impact and be shared by both parties.

So, do we all need therapy? Perhaps not. But perhaps the better question is: could we all benefit from a little therapy? I think the answer to that question is “yes.” Today’s therapies offer a wide variety of opportunities for personal growth. You’re not likely be asked to recline on a sofa and have every little thing that pops into your mind “analyzed” by some wise sage eager to have you uncover the traumas of your childhood. But you will have the the opportunity to learn some things about yourself, about the ways in which you relate to the world around you, and about the things you need to do to be more fulfilled and happy in your life. That’s why so many people do find therapy well worth the while.

For more about psychological problems that are specifically related to dysfunctional character or personality, see my books:

  • Character Disturbance
  • In Sheep’s Clothing
  • How Did We End Up Here?

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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