Does Self-Therapy Work?

Updated September 22, 2018

Some people work well with a therapist, but there is the aspect of therapy that involves you using different therapy techniques for different reasons. That's called self-therapy, and here, we will tell you if self-therapy works, and some aspects of it.

What Is Self-Therapy?

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Self-therapy is essentially using different connive-behavioral therapy on yourself. Some may see a therapist to help with CBT, but some may not know how to find one, or they're not in the person's network of insurance, or they're very expensive. Plus, it can be difficult to see a therapist in some cases.

CBT can be achieved through the help of self-help books that are out there. Essentially, this is what self-therapy is, and it involves books and internet treatment. It can be effective, and it can help in many cases.

Self-therapy in a sense provides a helpful therapist for those moments when you have issues. Sometimes, if it's hard to figure out the problem with another, or if you want to take your destiny into your own hands, you can utilize self-therapy. It does work in a sense that if you're not super desperate or in a bad place.

Self-counseling is something that we innately use with ourselves, where we listen with a heart that's open, asked to be clear about things or even ask questions to understand ourselves better. Learning to work with emotional wounds can also be mastered if one learns the correct structure.

At the bottom of it all, it essentially takes a person with the skill of compassion to heal wounds, and sometimes, if you have compassion for yourself, and the ability to understand how to do it, then you'll be able to work with this.

Does It Work?

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The answer is that it depends. In a review of 33 different studies, it was found that self-therapy and treatment do help with anxiety, and in another review that took 34 different cases on depression, there were some benefits of self-directed therapy, but mostly it was seen when people used CBT techniques.

For those who have suffered from substance abuse, this can help too. While they may have the help and support that counseling sessions provided for them, in the end, they may feel like they don't have that support and they may slip back into it. If you have a crisis as well, or if your therapist doesn't' understand what's happening, sometimes being able to control this with self-therapy helps as well.

Data from all of this does suggest those that use CBT for anxiety and depression do hold onto their progress, so it's an encouraging thing. If you're already going to therapy, and you want to keep your progress strong, this is a good thing.

One of the main goals of the CBT period is for the person to "become your therapist" and it involves learning skills that you can continue to learn and practice once treatment had ended. Those who learn CBT skills on their own can use them on their own to keep feeling happy, and healthy as well. It's amazing just what it can do for you.

Do We Just Get Rid Of Therapists Then?

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Course not. The truth is, while self-therapy is great for a person, doing CBT with a therapist gives you more gains, and it has the advantage of working with someone. Self-help treatment is usually done with limited help from a professional in some cases, but that addition of the therapist gives that extra boost compared to just self-help aspects alone. It also has the added benefit that if you work with a therapist, you have not only an expert, but you've got that consistent encouragement that you need.

Now, self-help CBT isn't something you should consider to be ineffective. The truth is, it's a movement towards something called stepped care, where the goal of this is to match the intensity of the person's needs. Those who are severely depressed will not do well with self-therapy because they're not able to even really get out of bed. In that case, you need to seek out a professional.

But, if you suffer from say, mild to moderate levels of both anxiety and depression, you can function pretty well without the use of a therapist, and you can do self-therapy to help with this.

The best way to do this is to look for a couple of different CBT books that have the seal of merit, and ones that are recommended. You can also do these in conjunction with your therapy, and it can help.

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

While these may be simple and obvious, CBT can help you with this, and doing this with yourself. Despite it being somewhat "trite" can be helpful for some people, and it can be a good thing for you if you feel like you need that extra boost.

Some Aspects To Consider

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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: this is 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: the problem that you have is something that you should look at. Studying problems allows you to look at it 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 fix it yourself. You shouldn't try to solve the practical issue until the emotional aspect is fixed though, and you should always look for the emotions and actions that aren't helping you whatsoever. You shouldn't try to change helpful feelings and actions, even if they're not pleasant.
  • Feelings: a big part of this is feelings. You should look at the unhelpful emotions that you have, and how you feel about these in a practical sense. If the problem is a behavioral one, you should look at the underlying feelings, and then look a the benefits of changing these emotions within yourself., and why you should do so.
  • The practicality of a problem: finally, look at how practical this problem is, and what might happen as a result of this, and from there, assume the worst, and describe the problem in less than 25 words. You should be precise with this and focus on a single practical problem at each time. You should look for ways to resolve this, and from there, if you can't change this, you're going to need to accept it. You should look for solutions, and if you don't like the situation, don't use it.

These are all aspects of self-therapy, and if you feel like all of this is too much for you to handle, then the best thing for you to do, is to try and figure out the solution with a counselor. Some people can figure these out easily in a self-help sense, but you should, if you feel stuck, always seek out a therapist that can help you with each of these problems, and to help you get a better feel for how you are as a person.

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. It is limited, and while it can help with mild issues, sometimes having that second person there makes it easier. If you feel like you need the help, there are therapists in the area that can help you with this, and you can get the help that you need. You can truly benefit from this type of help, but sometimes having that extra addition of another person can change the nature of it, and ultimately it can help you become a better, more reliable person now, and in the future as well.


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