Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Be Your Own Therapist

Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M. Ed., C. Psych

These do-it-yourself therapeutic strategies can help you heal from long-ago childhood wounds, manage everyday stress, and process painful experiences in a healthy way

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

 Mishpacha image

Photo: Shutterstock

R

ecently, a Mishpacha reader (let’s call her Michal) wrote in with a question: Is it possible to be your own therapist? Can you heal from childhood wounds on your own? What can you do to not repeat destructive patterns you witnessed growing up? Is there a way to identify and ultimately eliminate your triggers — without a professional’s guidance?

I wondered why Michal didn’t want to see a therapist. Was she concerned about the possible stigma associated with mental health treatment? Maybe it was a lack of money — a real deterrent for many — or a lack of faith in the process. Or perhaps Michal couldn’t make the time commitment that therapy might entail.

There are plenty of reasons why a person might choose not to address issues in a therapeutic context. But in some cases, the price of not accessing therapy is far greater than the costs — emotional, financial, and/or social — of accessing it. For instance, professional help is critical if you’re struggling with issues that are seriously disrupting your life: major depression, harmful addictions, dangerous eating disorders, severe relationship difficulties, or any other condition that causes intense distress and/or inability to function fully in daily work and social activities.

If, however, you’re struggling with something like normal relationship challenges, residual pain from childhood, low mood, high anxiety, irritability, and intense stress — the answer to Michal’s question is “yes.” There is a way to help yourself heal from painful experiences without seeking professional treatment. It’s called self-therapy, and it comes in many forms. 

Good Mental Health Hygiene

Imagine a young woman who consumes tons of sweets, rarely brushes or flosses her teeth (thereby allowing plaque to build up and bacteria to fester), ignores pain-filled warning signs (by popping pain relievers), and never visits a dentist for routine checkups. Would you be surprised if this woman had a major dental crisis?

Our mental health works the same way. If you don’t get enough sleep and rarely exercise (i.e., you don’t take care of your body), you brush emotional problems under the table (thereby allowing them to pile up and fester), you ignore pain-filled warning signals (by turning to pain relievers, addictions, and distractions), and you never check in with yourself (with or without the help of a therapist), you’re basically setting yourself up for a mental health crisis.

Good mental health — like good dental health — requires daily attention to prevent an accumulation of unresolved negativity. 

 

One could write an entire book about each aspect of preventative mental health care: Building and maintaining satisfying and supportive relationships; engaging in meaningful activities; having a rich spiritual and communal life; being financially secure; engaging in regular exercise; eating and sleeping properly; making daily time to unwind and relax; and tapping regularly into pleasure, fun, and creativity.

In addition, there’s self-therapy. Since emotional pain impacts the body, heart, and mind, self-therapy strategies have been developed to address all three of these areas. Interestingly, it’s been found that targeting just one area (for example, the mind) will inevitably affect the other two (the body and heart). With that in mind, here are some strategies for dealing with painful experiences, whether it’s a long-ago childhood incident or a current stressful day at work.

 

 


Related Stories

Reaching the Heart

A tribute to Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis by Chaia Frishman

The petirah of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis two weeks ago on 19 Av created a gaping hole in the kiruv c...

Dinner 101

Sara Glaz

It was time, once and for all, for Dinner 101. Here’s how I learned to get a wholesome dinner on the...

Riding High

Malky Lowinger

Teens at the brink get back in the saddle by learning patience, responsibility, and pride

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"