How Therapy Helps

Another good article from Philosopher’s Mail, this one on the benefits of therapy. Reason #3 is often the most helpful:

Therapy bolsters a sane inner voice

In the course of our lives, we will without doubt be exposed to a cast of terrible role models – and are at risk of internalising their unhelpful – but potent – approaches to life. The critical, snide remarks of a gang from school get lodged in our imaginations, so that we keep hearing echoes of their corrosive (but to us compelling) commentaries decades thereafter. Our harassed, rushed mother who couldn’t give us enough attention at key moments thirty-five years ago becomes our imaginary template of all intimate communication: people only half listen to one another, they always have more important things to do than spend time with us… Or it could be a splenetic father, who was never much impressed with us, from whom we internalise the idea that authority figures are always critically looking to see where we have fallen short.

These punitive, debilitating voices push us towards unhelpful ways of interpreting our own experience. I am disgusting, we tell ourselves. In our minds, we hear: of course, I failed. Obviously that person wouldn’t be interested in me. I’ve got no chance. I’ve got to leave the living room spotless – only the worst possible people would ever leave things until the morning. Only a deranged person would want to think of that during sex…


One of the key tasks of the therapist is to expose us often enough to a more sane, respectful, reasonable and realistic outlook than our own. The hope is that we will not for ever have to rely on their presence. A good version of the earlier damaging process of internalisation can ideally occur. The therapist’s kindly, wise voice should become our own. We should begin to intuit what they would have said in a given situation, and when they are no longer there, at moments of crisis and loneliness, can learn to say some of the important, calming and kind things to ourselves.

Read the whole article here.