Mental health is a hot topic these days. From athletes dropping out of Olympic competition to employers adding mental health benefits, everyone seems to be interested in figuring out how to improve thought patterns and emotional well-being. Psychotherapy, as a profession, is working toward that same goal. To that end, the profession is beginning to look at mental illness differently.
The idea of mental health suggests two competing opposites. On the one hand is health, on the other is sickness. Thus, we tend to view people with mental health issues as being broken in some way. Their minds need fixing.
A fantastic article published in Counselling Directory discusses this very point, alongside an emerging trend known as ‘core process psychotherapy’. Practitioners of this type of psychotherapy do not assume that patients are mentally ill. They do not assume there is something broken and they can fix it.
Understanding Thoughts and Emotions
At the heart of the process of psychotherapy is the belief that the negative thoughts and emotions that drive people to seek help are both natural and important. Psychotherapists see those thoughts and emotions as a gateway to improvement. Rather than signifying a problem in need of fixing, they signify opportunities to open new doors to new life opportunities.
A good way to illustrate the principle is through physical pressure. Let us say you put on a pair of jeans that are one size too small. You will feel the pressure of wearing those jeans before too long. Said pressure does not signify that there is something wrong with your body. In fact, let’s assume that your body is perfectly healthy.
The pressure you feel is not the result of your physical body being broken. It is a response to the clothing you are wearing. Furthermore, it is motivation for you to head to the shop to buy a new pair of jeans in the right size.
A Road of Self-Discovery
Core process psychotherapy is a little bit different in its approach. Rather than treating patients, psychotherapists lead them down a road of self-discovery. The point of the self-discovery journey is to better connect to anxiety, depression, etc. to understand why the patient’s emotions and thought patterns exist.
Once the ‘why’ is discovered, patients and psychotherapists can look for evidence of those thoughts and emotions affecting various aspects of life. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Complete the puzzle and you can clearly see what was right in front of you all the time.
Connecting with the Spirit
In a sense, core process psychotherapy looks to make a connection with the human spirit. Practitioners believe that the spirit ultimately strives for a person’s good. Therefore, any thoughts and emotions perceived to be negative actually exist as a means of helping a person learn and grow.
Though core process psychotherapy is still relatively new, its foundational principles make a lot of sense. They line up with the idea of psychosomatic illness, according to London psychotherapist María R. de Almeida.
De Almeida explains that psychosomatic illness is not imagined illness. Rather, it is illness that is some way linked to the mind. Psychotherapists know that thoughts and emotions can affect physical health and vice-versa. As such, a holistic psychotherapist seeks to treat the whole person.
Likewise, a practitioner of core process psychotherapy looks to holistically address the mind, heart, and spirit together. The approach is one of tapping into thoughts and emotions as a way to open new doors to the future. It dispenses with mental illness and replaces it with a journey to a better state of mind.