Psychotherapy is a method for understanding difficulties. Some forms of therapy also include ways of managing or improving various relevant states of being. A common way for different forms of therapy to understand how problems develop is by looking at the history a client may present with. They therefore believe that a client’s experiences will dictate whether they will suffer from emotional distress or not. The downside to this approach is that any causal hypothesis can’t be tested as one would have to go into the past and change relevant variables around in order to see if a client would develop differently. It also doesn’t match with the current state of scientific understanding, which indicates that genetics and biological states can have a massive influence on psychological suffering. The upside is that clients can “put more of a finger” on their suffering.
Modern approaches to therapy such as various forms of cognitive behavioural therapy have started to appreciate the complexity of human suffering which has led researchers to devise and implement theories stemming from evolutionary psychology. These theories appreciate innate tendencies and how these can explain problems such as anxiety and it’s foundational phenomena such as focusing on the threatening end of the spectrum of future possibilities (worry).
Experiencing anxious states is something very natural and does not have to be a problem if the severity of anxiety experienced is in proportion to the perceived threat at hand. It does become a problem if someone is constantly anxious or if the anxious response is disproportionate to that which triggered it.
Sometimes being constantly anxious can mean that someone has one big- or many things which they aren’t addressing. If someone is in a marriage with someone they don’t want, they could experience resulting tension which is constantly present in the background of one’s consciousness. Such circumstances don’t necessarily require therapy in order to alleviate suffering. One could get to the point where enough is enough and take necessary action. A good therapist will however make life easier by recognising what the problem might be and what could have resulted the person to get there in the first place (excessive people pleasing?).
People pleasing is a problem when sufferers believe to have no other option than be “nice”. This is mostly a submissive behaviour pattern which can have severe consequences, in that sufferers only recognise the needs of others, become self sacrificing and in severe cases have difficulties in developing and understanding their own identity. Less severe expressions of submissively orientated problems such as excessive people pleasing can sometimes be alleviated through the input of preferential circumstances such as going to the gym or by experiencing a more nurturing environment.
Many experiencers of mental distress become able to recognise their own problematic tendencies through life experience and as their mature. A method that is designed to understand problems will make it possible to fast-track self knowledge and thus provide a fertile ground of insights that will aid in making helpful changes in one’s life.