The culture we are growing up in puts therapy on a pedestal given the mental health awareness of our generation. This awareness results in therapy being the solution to all our problems. But how genuine is the therapy in that it does not interfere with the logistics of our lives and is completely unbiased in its approach.
Psychotherapy, or simply “therapy,” is a type of therapy used to treat emotional pain and mental health issues. It involves the assessment and understanding of life choices and issues faced by individuals, couples or families, and is provided by a range of qualified professionals – psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers or licensed counsellors.
First, one must understand the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and licensed counselors who are eligible to conduct therapy – because they are professionals – but whose style, experience and expertise vary.
This implies that each category of people will have different ways of conducting therapy, in addition to their individual choice – the approach of a psychologist or psychiatrist based on their personal choice. The choice of approaches is psychoanalytical, humanistic, behavioral etc.
Is therapy necessary?
Yes and yes. It may not be the solution to all our problems, but it doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional who knows how to navigate conversations and come to a structurally informed estimate of the problem(s) in the business. ‘individual.
The therapy’s central doctrine of “a safe space” where there is no judgment or prejudice means that anyone can bring any part of themselves – hidden or exposed (to the world) – to a therapist to explore, because ultimately psychotherapy is not about solutions (i.e. therapists are not magicians who can give up their magic wand and fix things) but on self-reflection and coming to one’s own rescue.
It’s different if a person has a chronic mental illness like bipolar disorder or depression. The average person who is lucky enough to escape chronic mental illness but still has anxiety attacks or feels depressed can seek therapy.
Conversations with a loved one, friend or family member can also mimic therapy except that these people, unlike practitioners, lack the experience and method to follow the conversation because the key is to listen and make the person comfortable enough to open up.
It may come naturally with a loved one or friend, but it still lacks a methodology that has a well-evidenced literature review to be effective. For the case of chronic mental illness, professional help is a mandate as the problem may also have a biological rather than an emotional component which requires the administration of medication and other forms of help. Therefore, the issue of therapy overstatement does not apply to chronic mental illness.
Increased mental health awareness helps
The culture of seeking therapy backed by its power and heightened mental health awareness has resulted in an oversight surrounding certain inefficiencies or rather biases driving the practice of therapy.
Therapists are professionals, but they are still humans, and humans do not operate outside of the preferences and biases shaped by their larger clique (culture and society). Examples of gender bias against clients are prominent, for example, an Indian woman suffering from depression was pressured by her parents to marry a boy.
She confided in her therapist but the latter replied by telling her that since she was a “little girl”, she had to adhere to her parents’ decision because the prestige of the family depended on her.
The psychiatrist even went so far as to mention that in another case, a family member had committed suicide since their daughter had refused to marry the chosen boy. Another disparity concerns the effectiveness of therapy and the administration of medication to treat mental health problems.
The literature on this subject is positive and supportive of the use of these treatment methods, but the possibility that the literature is faked is questioned, for example, only authors casting a positive light on the effectiveness are published while the opposite writings are neglected.
A study of 55 US National Institutes of Health clinical trial grants showed that 13 out of 55 trials were unpublished and after analyzing published and unpublished data, the study concluded that although psychotherapy is useful, there is a clear publication bias that exaggerates its effectiveness.
This brings us to the issue of ethics that surrounds client confidentiality, condescending comments, personal life, sexual overtures, and even blackmail.
Is therapy overrated?
The response is noticeable given the idea that our culture is obsessed, and we have come to view therapy as a panacea, having suddenly become aware of our own mental health and our endless difficulty in communicating even with those we we like.
But this question is not in the same discourse on the effectiveness of therapy. Therefore, although it is overrated, it works. Human beings as social beings thrive on conversation, meeting and sharing.
When these are deprived, it leads to mental health problems and it is essential to cure it by the very means (the absence of) of its creation.
So if letting someone go out and talk to someone eases the burden we carry, turning to a knowledgeable practitioner makes more sense than a friend or loved one.
Kalia, Saumya and Rohitha Naraharisetty. “What happens when therapists bring their own gender bias into client care.” SwaddlingDecember 11, 2021. Accessed May 17, 2022.
Legg, Timothy J. “Types of Therapy: Different Types of Approaches and How They Work.” Health LineMarch 1, 2019. Accessed May 17, 2022.
“Therapy.” psychology today. Accessed May 17, 2022.
Turner, Eric. “Is Psychotherapy Overrated?” The scientific explorerOctober 7, 2015. Accessed May 17, 2022.
Wiseman, Eva. “Is therapy overrated? » British vogueMay 13, 2022. Accessed May 17, 2022.