Does Self-Therapy Work?

Updated June 02, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner

Some people work well with a therapist, but others would prefer to deal with their issues on their own. This could be considered "self-help", or "self-therapy".

What Is Self-Therapy?


Self-therapy is essentially using different therapy techniques without the assistance of a professional. Improvement can often be achieved through using self-help books that are available. It can be effective and helpful in many cases.

Self-therapy provides a helpful substitute for going to a therapist when you have issues. Self-reflection is something that we innately use with ourselves, where we listen to our thoughts with an open heart, ask for clarity, or even ask questions to understand ourselves better.

Does It Work?


The effectiveness of self-help therapy varies. In a review of 33 different studies, it was found that self-therapy and treatment do help with anxiety, and in another review of 34 different cases of depression, there were some benefits of self-directed therapy, mostly for those who learned cognitive-behavioral techniques.

For those who struggle with substance abuse, self-therapy can be a helpful technique. While they may have the help and support of counseling sessions, they may need additional support to stop a relapse.

Data suggests those that use CBT for anxiety and depression do hold onto their progress, so it's an encouraging thing.

One of the main goals of CBT treatment is for the person to learn skills that you can continue to learn and practice once treatment ends. Those who learn CBT skills on their own can use them on their own to keep feeling happy, and healthy as well.

Do We Just Get Rid Of Therapists Then?


While self-therapy is great for a person, doing CBT with a therapist gives you more gains. Self-help treatment is usually done with limited help from a professional in some cases, but the addition of the therapist gives that extra boost. The added benefit of working with a therapist offers accountability, as well as consistent encouragement.

If you suffer from mild to moderate levels of both anxiety and depression, you are likely functioning pretty well, and you can do self-therapy to help with this.

The best way to do this is to look for a couple of highly-rated self-help books on cognitive-behavioral therapy. You can also do these in conjunction with your therapist for extra support between sessions.

Some of the things you can learn with self-therapy include the following:

  • Identifying the thought patterns you user
  • Determining if the thoughts you have are correct
  • Replacing the biased thoughts with realistic ones
  • Discover how your thoughts affect how you act and feel
  • Scheduling activities that allow you to feel accomplished
  • Recognizing that your actions influence your emotions and thoughts
  • Planning ways to make use of your time
  • Breaking down big tasks into smaller ones
  • Facing fears so they go away

Some Aspects To Consider


When it comes to self-therapy, there are a few aspects that you can consider if you feel like you could use this. The truth is, it all depends on you. For some people, they may be able to work out the details on their own, and may use self-therapy as a way to help supplement their current therapy if they're having a rough day. Other cases may need more personal therapy, which isn't a bad thing. But, if you're going to use self-therapy, there are a few aspects that you should consider:

  • The scope of the problem: what you want to work on. Is it a major problem, or a small problem? You should think about what you want to achieve, and if you can do it with self-therapy.
  • Study it: studying problems allows you to look at issues from a deeper level. You can split the problem into two aspects, the practical and the emotional part, and from there look at the feelings and actions you want to address.
  • Feelings: you should look at how your emotions are impacting your understanding of the problem that you have. If the problem is a behavioral one, you should look at the underlying feelings, and how they are impacting your behaviors.

These are all aspects of self-therapy, and if you feel overwhelmed by the problems you are facing, then the best thing for you to do is to seek out the help of a counselor.

Get The Help You Need!
If you feel like you can't figure out the problem on your own, or you feel like self-therapy isn't for you, then don't despair. Self-help can assist with mild issues, but sometimes having that second person there makes it easier. If you feel like you need the help, there are therapists available.

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