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Can I do therapy on myself?

This was the question I was asking myself not too long ago. I was in the middle of training to become a psychiatrist, A LOT was going on in my life, and I honestly was struggling to manage all of it. I was feeling mostly anxious, depressed at times, and found it difficult to get things under control. This was the stuff I was being taught to treat, but my training up until that point had mostly been about medications...and I didn't really think that's what I needed or wanted yet (although I'm sure I could have easily justified getting on something). I had definitely learned of "psychotherapy" being a great treatment for a lot of things depression and anxiety related, but we didn't really get to learn that in detail or practice until later in training...and I wanted help now. I didn't feel I had the time or money to get professional therapy, and I'm partially of the opinion (often erroneously) that if I can't do it myself by "Googling it" extensively then I'm not going to do I wondered, "Can I do therapy on myself?"

And so I went to work...which involved a lot of reading and asking questions. I initially was drawn to existential themes (ya know: life, death, time, decision-making, meaning, etc.) so I started with Existential Therapy by Irvin Yalom. I thought I might be interested in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) so read that book by Steven Hayes, Kirk Strosahl, and Kelly Wilson. I knew Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) had a great evidence-base for depression and anxiety, and found it even had demonstrated benefit when people follow CBT-based workbooks - a way to do therapy on myself! So I read Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Judith Beck, Feeling Great by David Burns, Mind over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky, and Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks by Seth Gillihan (those last three being CBT-based workbooks). I also started getting training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy by Marsha Linehan as well as introductions to psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy. These led me to other books and more "Googling it." I asked my supervisors questions, and may have not-so-covertly asked about applying the principles for myself (the classic "asking for a friend" situation).

Reader: "OK, Kaden, stop telling me about all of the books you read and studying you did. Can you do therapy on yourself? Did it work?"

My short answer: Yes, with a caveat.

My not-so-short answer: I believe learning about all of these therapeutic modalities, frameworks, and principles was profoundly impactful for me. Ultimately, through gleaning my favorite aspects of all of these, I internalized a personal therapeutic framework which I frequently employ when feeling down or anxious and it has, and continues to be, extremely beneficial. I will add that so much of the therapeutic element to psychotherapy is relationship (including empathy, validation, being heard, etc.) and an ability to truly individualize the principles, which arguably cannot be replicated in a DIY fashion as it requires someone in addition to "yourself." Therefore, true psychotherapy cannot be replaced by a DIY approach, however I strongly believe that many people can see significant improvements in their mental health by incorporating expertly-designed therapeutic frameworks and principles.

Throughout much of my journey, I kept thinking to myself, "Why doesn't the world know about this stuff?!" I craved a way to consume this information in a video-format that was engaging and that established a therapeutic foundation I could continue to build on. I created the Therapize Yourself course to do just this. It walks you through my synthesis of what I believe to be the most impactful elements of these therapeutic modalities and shows you how to apply and practice these for yourself - all from the comfort of (insert comfortable place of your choosing here)! If you would like to give it a try then I have made the Introduction to Mental Health portion of the course free so you can get a feel for my style to see if it would be a good fit!


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