Psychotherapy and How it Works

How does individual and group psychotherapy assist the client who is recovering from mental, emotional, or physical disorders, addictions, disabling pain and other ailments that require long-term attention?

This seemingly naive question can be answered with some degree of precision and certainty, making the process of recovery rewarding and life changing.

It is first necessary to identify problem areas that need attention, or further clarification and development. Once identified, the crucial aspects of the change process will constitute a rational basis upon which the person may base tactics and strategies. Therapeutic change is a complex process, and it occurs through an intricate interplay of various guided experiences, referred to as curative factors.

There is an enormous advantage in approaching complex problems through the simple identification of specific situations or feelings. Problem or conflict resolution through psychotherapy is achieved by taking one specific area of one's life through a process of discovery, change, and integration, culminating in a new and more adaptive way of living. Other situations can subsequently be explored, allowing for the adaptation of the newly acquired skills in a timely manner.

There are several major categories to assess

Installation of Hope: The installation and maintenance of hope is crucial in all aspects of psychotherapy. Not only is hope required to keep the individual in therapy so that the other curative factors may take effect, but faith, which is the maintenance of hope, can itself be therapeutically effective.

Universality: Many individuals enter therapy with the disquieting thought that they are unique in their wretchedness, that they alone have certain frightening or unacceptable problems, thoughts, impulses and fantasies; that if people knew the real person (not the false person that they present), they would immediately be rejected or abandoned. This distorted sense of uniqueness, combined with feeling socially unacceptable, is often heightened by self-imposed social isolation. This leads to difficulty in relationships, low self-esteem, and the lack of assertiveness. After hearing that others have concerns similar to their own or that others share feelings of incompetence and unacceptability, a deep sense of relief may be experienced.

Imparting Information:  We live in a world of information.  Individuals are interested in the most up to date information - about the therapeutic process and about themselves. This allows them to make reasonable decisions and enables the individual to begin assuming personal power. It is important for the therapist to be able to give valid and up to date information about the therapeutic process, as well as give advice, suggestions, or direct guidance about the problems that have been identified. This begins the development of trust and gives the individual a feeling of safety and security.

Altruism: Altruism plays an important part in the healing process. It is a part of all 12-step groups. It is based on the principle that individuals receive through the act of giving. Many have long considered themselves burdensome, and it is a self-esteem boosting experience to find that they can be important to others. A more subtle benefit is inherent in the altruistic act. It helps those who are self-absorbed or socially isolated to find meaning and purpose in life.

Resolving Family Conflict and Grief: Almost without exception, individuals enter therapy with a history of unsatisfactory experiences in their primary family. It is important that early family conflicts be identified and corrected, as some seem so common that they are not clearly recognized as unhealthy. Growth-inhibiting relationships must be explored and unfinished business from the past worked through and grieved. Therapeutic opportunities must be provided and conflicts and feelings uprooted and changed.

Social Learning: Social learning, the development of basic social skills, provides a meaningful way to assist individuals in developing a healthy strategy to solving prospective problems. This approach provides ways of learning and growing, rather than emphasizing past failures. Many individuals are painfully aware of their faults and shortcomings, and they would benefit from learning healthy, mature, sophisticated social skills as a way of resolving inner conflict. Sometimes behavior acquired as survival techniques detract from, rather than enhance, acceptability in social groups. It is advantageous to develop socially acceptable behavior, as it improves confidence and self worth.

Interpersonal Learning: A positive outcome of the therapeutic experience requires that the individual learn new things about himself. This learning process is a broad and complex process, which includes such aspects as insight, working through situations, and correcting or minimizing negative emotional experiences. Human beings require intense, positive, reciprocal, and interpersonal bonds. Without this positive attachment, people experience marked anxiety, depression, or anger. Poor or negative bonding can also lead to the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and deep despair.

Existential Factors of Life: Often unrecognized, existential factors play an important role in psychotherapy. Clients and therapists automatically search to understand life's trials. We do know that understanding occurs within us. We must attend to the inner experience, which is the author of our outer life. Often times we find things in life that we just must accept. Understanding this concept puts an emphasis on free choice, responsibility, the true meaning of our individual life, and how it relates to our day-to-day experiences. It is a harsh lesson to understand that there are certain things we just cannot change or obtain from others. For example, we must learn to recognize that life is, at times, unfair and unjust. We must also learn to recognize that ultimately there is no escape from life's pain; that no matter how close you get to other people, you still face life alone; and that by facing basic issues in life, one can live more honestly and be less likely to get caught up in trivialities. Finally, one must learn that it is necessary to take ultimate responsibility for the way one lives life, no matter how much guidance and support he gets from others.

Spiritual Factors: At the center of each individual is an all-knowing spark, the part of the self that is constantly connected to everything. Even though there may be little understanding of this concept, we must recognize that ultimately we are not in control. We can, and do, receive perfect love and guidance by following spiritual laws. We are all in search of our special mission and purpose in life. When this path is discovered and practiced, life itself changes for us forever. A spiritual way of life is often difficult to achieve, as spiritual principles are seemingly unclear and uncertain. This journey should be undertaken with forethought and discipline, accepting that confusion and doubt are inherent in the process. One's fascination and sense of awe will be aroused when the principles are practiced and explored; leaving one with a feeling experience that closely resembles a deep sense of relief.

The Past Does Effect Our Present and Future Behavior: We have within us a divine sense of purpose, an idealized self with goals and aspirations that can be used to influence our future. Through psychotherapy, prayer and meditation, individuals can retrace their steps, make the changes necessary, and assure themselves a future dramatically different from the past.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a set of strategies aimed at meeting the challenges that substance abusers and those individuals who are mentally ill face in maintaining abstinence and/or return of symptoms upon returning to their everyday lives. Without a predetermined and well-organized approach to preventing the symptoms of the disease, it may not be possible to successfully resist relapse. All approaches to relapse prevention require the client to be active and alert in their recovery and recognize the following as key to avoiding relapse.

  • Recognition that a relapse may likely to occur is a first step in preventing a relapse.
  • Learn how to anticipate, avoid, and cope with high-risk situations.
  • Become alert to cognitive, attitudinal, emotional, or behavioral warning signs

Commitment to total abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and become increasingly more aware of distorted thinking patterns - or the return of other symptoms that may be an indication that the illness is out of control - is the only way to assure recovery.

Relapse prevention is designed to teach the individual how to cope with life in a non-stressful manner, and how to focus on reintegrating back into society successfully. Clients are encouraged to be supportive of each other in a group counseling setting.

Too often, individuals in recovery let denial creep into their thinking and put the problem on the shelf, where they hope it will either disappear or solve itself. Those who have tried this approach to their problems and issues eventually recognize that resolving tough obstacles and getting unstuck involves risk and change. In many instances, getting unstuck begins when the troubled individual reaches out and asks for advice.

If you are required to support their life in spite of a mental or emotional disability or a chronic physical illness, and you want to maintain a wellness attitude that centers on the enjoyment of life and not the illness, you may benefit from one of the programs that InnerWisdom has to offer.

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Our Skills

  • Most essential is our core competence in recovery. We maintain an experienced team advancing our company-wide objective for highly applicable and cost effective mental health treatment.
  • We know how to manage a crisis.  We provide a rapid response to any situation as we can quickly evaluate the problem stabilize the condition and anticipate a positive outcome.
  • We apply our skills and expertise to help motivate individuals and groups to work together for the betterment of communities. 
  • Our client community is diverse and varied.  This diversity is reflected in our treatment staff allowing for healthy therapeutic relationships to develop.
  • We understand that other people's feelings are central to emotional well-being. Modeling this philosophy is essential for success. Our treatment programs focus on social awareness - the ability to understand and respond to the needs of others.

What Our Clients Say

  • Everyone made me feel welcome; the staff and clients from my first day. If I felt lost or confused I was pointed in the right direction or was given information to answer my questions. I had time to get adjusted to everything without feeling hurried.

  • All aspects of the program were special. The staff was kind well trained professional and experienced. Treatment was tailored to each person’s needs complemented by group therapy. My transformation has been wonderful.

  • InnerWisdom provided an approach to treatment that renewed my spirit mind and body. I would recommend the program to any of my family and friends. The environment is nurturing for anyone needing an environment for recovery.

  • I am very grateful that my treatment was at InnerWisdom Inc. This place is very special and that is because of the staff and caring environment.

  • Fabulous treatment program! Can’t put into words how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to come here.

  • Inner Wisdom has a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) where patients meet in groups with a therapist on a daily schedule. Patients have a variety of mental illness diagnoses including Bipolar Disorder Schizoaffective disorder Schizophrenia and substance abuse which interfere with their ability to live a full and productive life. Students will have the opportunity to shadow therapists facilitate therapy groups and Psychoeducation groups meet individually with patients and understand the case management required by Medicare and private insurance companies. Students work under a variety of therapists and can observe different styles and strengths. A strong team approach is encouraged. Students have the opportunity to get direct experience with patients and to use their skills creatively in offering therapy.

    Bonnie Fall
    Former Student Intern