If you are someone who has experienced psychotherapy and found it helpful to your life you probably already understand the value of psychological and emotional exploration.  If you are someone who has witnessed changes in a loved one or friend because of therapy then you too may not need much convincing.  However, if you have an aversion to psychotherapy, are skeptical about it, or perhaps curious but a little afraid to try it,  I hope that this blog might help you reconsider your position.

So what is so important about “talk” or psychotherapy?

I sometimes try to image a world where there is no such thing as therapy or therapists;  a world where there is no psychological or emotional help at all.  In this world you would still find the same social and emotional problems we have now, but without professionals to address those specific issues.

Perhaps in this world you would find clergy members and medical doctors but in this imaginary world these folks offer help within their agendas.  For clergy or religious groups the agenda would be to convert you into a “believer” or assure that you continue to be a “believer”.   For medical doctors it would be to cure your biological or chemical imbalance.

In this imaginary world causes for your emotional distress would be viewed within a certain agenda.  For religious groups it would be due to sin and moral weakness. For medical doctors it would be due to biological, chemical or genetic imbalances.  Emotional mistreatment, neglect, cruelty, social chaos, economic deprivation, family dysfunction – the whole social and emotional ball of wax – would be addressed in this fashion.

In this imaginary world pills, “moral cleansing”, boot strap lifting, encouraged denial of emotional pain, and blame the victim, among others, would be the treatment available.  In this world of “healing” and “help” you would find no conversation, no honest relationship, no empathic listening, no attempts at emotional understanding, no emotional support, and no unconditional positive regard.    This all sounds awful to me but in my opinion, not to far removed from where conventional mental health, psychology, and psychiatry are headed.

In my city of Portland Oregon, many therapist are worried that they will not be able to continue independent psychotherapy practice in the future without being involved in large health care/ insurance organizations who will dictate how psychotherapy is practiced.  It is projected that this “new system of care” will have even more rules, regulations, “improvement” indicators and over seeing by insurance companies (who’s motive is financial profit not emotional health) than we already have.   Most of us are already familiar with the huge increase in prescribed psychiatric medication when we seek emotional help from health care professionals.  In addition, there is also a resurgence in electro-shock treatment despite everything we know about it.  Who knows maybe psychosurgery a.k.a. lobotomy will be next (with a new chic name no doubt).  Seems to me we will do just about anything to avoid talking to one another about how we truly feel and experience the world.

And these are some reasons why therapy matters.  Pills and electroshock are no substitutions for relationship and empathy fostered by psychotherapy.   Psychology research shows that relationship and social connection are what facilitates emotional health, healing, and well-being for most human beings.  We are social creatures not cases.  We enter the world upon birth ready to engage in loving and healthy social interaction.  Unfortunately many of us don’t receive this and end up emotionally suffering in our lives because of it.

Good psychotherapy gives us the opportunity for exploring unconditional and empathic connection to our real selves for ourselves through the medium of the therapeutic relationship.  There is nothing like it in this world!   This is the type of professional emotional help I want when I am in need of it.  Yes, therapy matters.