What Is Insight Therapy? Definition, Purpose, And Applications

By Gabrielle Seunagal |Updated May 25, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

Insight therapy is a form of treatment in which a therapist works with a patient to help them understand how their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and experiences from their past impact their present state of mind.

Believe it or not, insight therapy is commonly used in a variety of types of mental health treatment. This is largely because past experiences and the things which we keep inside always have a rippling effect. If someone hasn't dealt with certain things or if their internal thoughts, beliefs, and feelings aren't good, that's going to hurt them in the present. The ultimate purpose of insight therapy is to help individuals to better the quality of their lives.

Need Help Deciding If Insight Therapy Is Right For You?

A Thorough Analysis Of Insight Therapy

At its core, insight therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The psychotherapy definition can be applied to many different varieties of therapy. Patients who choose to undergo this form of treatment will sit down with a therapist, and a lot of talks will take place. Discussions will center around the patient and how their beliefs, emotions, and feelings impact them in the present day. To get to this point, though, patients will have to address some of the underlying factors and experiences which contribute to who they are and how they feel inside.

The success of insight therapy largely depends upon the patient and therapy building rapport with one another. After all, this treatment will involve the patient opening up and talking about some issues which might be difficult. This is where the therapist's job of guiding the patient and gradually getting them to open up will be very critical.


Another important part of insight therapy involves going back to the patient's childhood. Believe it or not, a person's childhood can have a very significant impact on the quality of life which they experience as adults. Believe it or not, the experiences which we have as young people set the precedence for our lives as adults. The things which we go through shape us and open the door for subsequent, related experiences.

A patient's childhood can also impact their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs as adults. This has been proven time and time again. For instance, a child who lacks close relationships with relatives and peers may grow up to be an adult who harbors negative views about connecting with others.

Of course, it's worth noting that that same child could grow up and meet other people who they connect with. Adverse childhood experiences do not necessarily doom one to an adulthood full of challenges and pain, just as a great childhood does not always mean that someone will grow into a productive and successful adult. While the specific nature of circumstances can vary, childhood always has an impact on adulthood, whether for better or for worse. This is why going back to one's earlier years is so important for patients who are undergoing insight therapy.

Underlying Thoughts, Beliefs, And Emotions

It's already been established that the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are dominant themes in insight therapy; however, the reasons behind these things is also explored. You can learn a lot about someone from how they think of and perceive various matters. During insight therapy sessions, the patient needs to get to the reasons or experiences which have shaped their thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. These can date back to things which happened in childhood or previous adult years.

Need Help Deciding If Insight Therapy Is Right For You?

Comprehending how one's underlying thoughts, belief, and emotions impact present-day experiences can be very empowering for a patient. Not only does this give them clarity and help patients better understand themselves, but this comprehension furthermore empowers patients. When someone understands that certain thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are hurting their life, they can decide to make a change.

Ideally, this is the path which insight therapy should be going. Working with a therapist is what helps patients to not only discover the underlying experiences and internal things which impact them but also to make certain changes. This could be a change of environment, a change in the social circle which a patient keeps or a change in the limiting, disempowering belief systems which may be holding a patient back from living their best life.

The Power Of One's Mindset

Similarly to events which took place during childhood and the internal emotions, beliefs, and thoughts of patients, the power of one's mindset is another prevalent theme in insight therapy. Believe it or not, there are so many people who lack a true understanding of just how important the quality of their mindset is. If a patient is unable to grasp how much the right or wrong mindset can impact their life, then getting them to make a change will be virtually impossible for any therapist.

This is why insight therapy addresses the paramountcy of the human mindset. The mindset impacts the decisions someone makes, how they carry themselves and the treatment that someone accepts. A person who has a positive mindset is highly likely to make choices which will benefit them; likewise, they will surround themselves with others who share similar outlooks on life. Someone with a negative or self-defeating mindset is much more susceptible to making poor life choices and surrounding themselves with the wrong crowd. This is where the relationship between a patient's childhood, mindset, and underlying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs comes full circle.

Reasons To Try Insight Therapy

If you've come this far, you may be wondering whether or not working with an insight therapist would be a good decision for you. Ultimately, this is a call which only you can make. Nobody can force someone to take therapy if they're not truly ready; however, there are some common signs which often indicate that a person could greatly benefit from insight therapy.

Struggles With Interpersonal Relationships

Ongoing struggles in relationships with friends, relatives, coworkers, and others who you interact with definitely indicate that insight therapy could prove to be helpful. It's very important to understand that there are many reasons why someone might have trouble with different interpersonal relationships. In some cases, the reason could simply boil down to the quality of individuals who they are surrounding themselves with. In other scenarios, struggles with interpersonal relationships could boil down to underlying issues or something else altogether.

Issues With Self-Esteem

If you find yourself having issues with your self-esteem or self-worth, then you may find insight therapy to be beneficial. In many scenarios, issues with self-esteem can boil down to a series of internal issues. Sometimes issues within can be a result of childhood or previously repressed trauma which has yet to be dealt with. There are other cases where self-esteem issues are prompted by one's environment or the individuals who they surround themselves with. You may be unsure of why you're having trouble with self-worth and self-esteem, and that's OK. Insight therapy is an amazing process which can truly change your life.


If you are someone who is struggling with depression, then insight therapy will certainly be helpful to you. There are tons of reasons, underlying issues, and factors which can contribute to and worsen depression. Not only can insight therapy help with finding the reasons and roots of depression, but simply having the sounding board of someone to talk to and confide in can make a difference as well.

In Closing

Insight therapy has helped many people with all different types of issues or things which they would like to deal with. Even if you are not facing interpersonal relationship struggles, self-esteem issues or depression, insight therapy can still be advantageous to you. No matter where someone is in life, there is always benefit and value in evaluating the past and looking at ways in which improvements can be made.

It's important to remember that insight therapy is one of many forms of treatment. Whether you select this type of therapy or another entirely, you should always remember that asking for help is never anything to be ashamed of. Some so many people are going through tough times and feel as though they can't or shouldn't seek professional help. The ability to ask for help when needed is one of the strongest and bravest things that you can do.

If you would like to work with a mental health specialist or even sit down with a therapist, then you're in luck. Here at BetterHelp, we have a great team of world-class professionals who would be more than happy to work with you. The truth of the matter is that we all go through tough times in life. Everyone stumbles sometimes, but we don't have to stay down.

Regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what your story is, you should always feel comfortable with asking for guidance. There is no judgement at BetterHelp; our only priority is being of assistance to you in the best way possible. You can get started with us at any time and from anywhere simply by clicking here.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.