I’m a male near 50 and professionally at the end of the road. I’m looking for some way to improve my self-image and thought patterns. Where can I go?
You don’t say a lot about what exactly it is about your self-image and thought patterns that you would like to change, but the fact that you are observing something about yourself that isn’t working for you is an excellent sign that you will be able to make use of psychotherapy, or talking therapy. In order for people to really benefit from talking therapy, they need to have some insight into their situation, be somewhat psychologically-minded and able to take responsibility for their situation (i.e., not just blame all of their problems on things “out there” that other people are doing).
The fact that you wrote this question indicates that you may have these three qualities, and therefore psychotherapy could help you to learn more about your self-image and thought patterns and ways to change them.
How do you find a good psychotherapist? Generally, you can obtain psychotherapeutic treatment from a psychiatrist (who is also an M.D. and can therefore prescribe medications and other treatments), a psychologist (who is a Ph.D. and has usually done specialized training in psychological evaluation and different forms of talking therapy), or a Master’s-level therapist (such as an MFCC or a social worker). There are also different schools of psychotherapy — ranging from the psychodynamic approach (which focuses on people’s childhood experiences and unconscious patterns of relating and behaving), to interpersonal models (which emphasize how a person interacts with others), to cognitive-behavioral techniques (which focus specifically on maladaptive thinking patterns and behaviors). Each school has its strengths and weaknesses, and actually some research shows that it isn’t so much the specific techniques which are important to make psychotherapy work, but the nature of the relationship between patient and therapist, which should be professional, respectful, warm, and caring.
Psychotherapy is sometimes offered in a time-limited format (six to twenty sessions), usually to focus on a given specific problem, or it can be more open-ended (one to three years or longer, for more complex issues and problems). If cost is not an issue, you should take your time and shop around for a therapist with whom you feel a good affinity. If you belong to a managed care organization, you might not have much choice, and will have to work with someone from their panel of providers. If the fit between you and the psychotherapist is not good, you should defintiely change therapists. Psychotherapy can also happen very effectively in a group setting (group therapy), especially for people who really want to focus on interpersonal issues.
The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.