Why I Use Psychotherapy
Contrary to what many people believe, psychotherapy for anxiety, depression, phobias or stress doesn't have to be a long and costly process. Feeling better doesn't require a lifetime of intensive psychotherapy.
How is this possible? Research shows that our negative moods are strongly influenced by distorted and harsh evaluations of people around us, events and ourselves. Psychologists teach "cognitive behavioral skills," shown by scientific studies to help you change your mood by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ideas.
The principles of cognitive therapy go back to ancient Greek philosophers who reasoned that people are disturbed by the meaning they give events, not by events themselves. Still, many people get caught in the trap of believing negative thoughts as if they are facts. Applying commonsense skills taught in cognitive therapy can be an eye-opener.
Cognitive therapy is akin to learning any new skill. By practicing methods for replacing negative, distorted thoughts with more positive thoughts, you can actually start to feel the results.
You don't need to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown to benefit. These skills can help almost everyone improve their quality of life.
Here's an exercise I often try with patients. Let's say you're upset about an argument you just had. Write down what happened, in clear, simple terms. Now, draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left, write what you're thinking, such as: "No one cares about me," or "I'm unlovable." On the right, write what you would tell a dear friend who had the same negative thoughts. Your advice should be realistic, compassionate, and non-judgmental.
Now, try accepting this advice for yourself, and see if you don't start feeling a little bit better.
Source: Bruce S. Zahn, Ed.D., A.B.P.P., Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine