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Shippy's avatar

What can a psychologist tell you, that you cannot work out for yourself?

Asked by Shippy (9870points) October 19th, 2012

Lately I have been having a lot of revelations, about my life, now in the present and the past. Including how the past has impacted on my life now. The types of patterns I have had. Astonishingly also answering questions on Fluther has lead to much introspection and realizations. When I answer a question it says a lot to me, about me.

I don’t want to be too analytical here, because yes changes in cognition, or in-depth psychoanalysis, or others, offers different slants into the psyche of a person and therefore hopefully change if necessary. But really couldn’t we manage this on our own? Or most of us?

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13 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

Things like denial are probably very hard to auto correct without exterior revelation. We don’t really like to be honest with our selves.

I have recently discovered I have insecurity issues, probably fueled by a need for external validation from my girlfriend. It is a hard pill to swallow. I could have probably realized this sooner if someone had pointed it out to me. Then again, perhaps it would have just got my back up and had the opposite effect.

I have some respect for psychology, but I still see it as pseudo science. A glorified version of “takes one to know one”. So you have to be careful who you listen to.

Coloma's avatar

If you could work something out for yourself you wouldn’t need a therapist. Therapists don’t “tell” you anything, they attempt to guide you to your own insights. They help you challenge your false beliefs that are inhibiting your full growth and lend fresh perspectives to old problems. They help you to help yourself.

tom_g's avatar

Have you ever had a “great idea”, only to hear yourself describe the worst idea ever thought of once you are communicating it to a friend? When we put our thoughts into words in an attempt to communicate them to other people, sometimes we can see the problems with such thoughts. Having an objective professional sit there and listen to you is a great way to “hear” your own thoughts. And, the best therapists will be able to simply ask for elaboration in precisely the areas that our minds have closed off because they are resistant to analysis.

So, no – there is nothing a therapist can tell you that you could not work out for yourself. But they can often help you find those hidden areas of your mind/thoughts that might have gone even unnoticed to yourself.

Some of us can make a ton of progress on our own. But there are times when we can’t. And even for those that can – I see nothing wrong with therapy. If nothing else, it can speed up the process.

Judi's avatar

Especially for people in dysfunctional families, they often don’t have any perspective of “normal” and need someone to give them perspective. When a lot of noise is going on in your life having an outside perspective is often helpful.
Most people should be able to to figure things out for themselves but when they can’t professional intervention is a great option.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you can do most of what a therapist can do for you on your own or with help from friends or others. However it is harder to do it on your own. It is more haphazard. And you don’t get the perspective on your own that you would have from an unbiased observer.

I’m in favor of using friends and fluther and what I’ve found is the best is a support group of people like me. But my therapist was able to help, perhaps mostly because I was so badly off. She had expertise that I didn’t have. She had authority that helped me believe things she said when I really didn’t want to believe them.

I accused her of saying things just to keep me paying her. She said she liked me. I said I paid her to say that. She said I was funny. I said I was getting my money’s worth. She said she wasn’t going to judge me for what I did; she just wanted to help me do it safely, without hurting anyone.

I caved. I finally believe she was truly on my side and didn’t think I was a bad person.

Not all psychologists are right for you. Some will judge you and tell you what they think you should do, and if that goes against your personality, then I think you are in trouble. But if and when you find the right therapist, then they can be better and more reliable than friends and fluther.

But if you aren’t that badly off, then I think friends and fluther and support groups can be just what you need. But if you have insurance to pay for it, I would definitely use a psychologist.

DigitalBlue's avatar

This is one of the reasons I’ve never found therapy to be very helpful. Usually they don’t tell me anything that I don’t already know, and also making little connections to events in my childhood and adolescence isn’t especially useful to me in getting better.
However, that’s not to say the same is true for everyone.

jca's avatar

It can be helpful to “bounce” things off someone objective, without wondering if they’re just “yessing” you or paying you lip service.

wundayatta's avatar

There’s a developing new therapy that allows people to find images to help them express their feelings. This story about this therapy, which I read about in Wired, has clients put together images on a Pinterest board, and then the therapist interprets the images in order to help the clients understand their feelings better. It seems to me that many people do not have a vocabulary for feelings and do not have the training or experience that would help them understand or gain insight into their behavior. For them, a therapist may be essential.

janbb's avatar

You are lucky if you are one of the people who is able to have such insight on your own. I’m sure there are others who can but I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I have without the help of my therapist. And I know many, many people with far less self-awareness than I although most of them don’t think they need therapy.

Shippy's avatar

@janbb true and as @tom_g said it can speed up the process. Didn’t think of that. Plus loads don’t have insight, or like me a slow insight.

filmfann's avatar

I have been through therapy a few times, and I will insist that a good one can help you through some evil shit.
I honestly believe mine saved my life.

downtide's avatar

A psychologist can give you an objective view when your thinking is skewed by negative thoughts.

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