The Problem with Talk Therapy

Brian FishbachAdvice5 Comments

This blog post is based on a conversation we had with Neil at a recent Society intensive.

As a society, we don’t focus enough on mental health.

From the start of life, we see physicians, dentists, and teachers – it’s time we start taking our emotional and psychological health just as seriously.

First of all, everyone has a reason to go to therapy.

If you have gone therapy in some way, good for you.

If you haven’t ever gone to therapy in your life, maybe you should.

But let’s clear something up: you should re-consider how you’re seeking therapy. People usually think of the act of speaking to a mental health professional as just talk therapy. Here’s how it plays out:

You hire a mental health professional to listen to you.

You take out part of your day to visit their office.

You take a seat. You explain what’s been happening with you over the last week.

Your therapist challenges you.

They give you advice.

You write a check.

If you’re seeing a psychiatrist, they might write you a prescription.

You both agree to meet again next week.

For the next seven days, it is just you and your thoughts.

You monitor your behavior. And the following week, the results are reported to the therapist through your interpretation only.

The problem with talk therapy is accountability. We get caught up in our own thoughts and interpretations of the events around us.

Talk therapy for some reason is the dominant model, but in Neil’s experience, it’s the not the best model.

When undergoing the transformation that Neil documented in the book The Truth, his breakthroughs emerged not through intellect, but through absorption.

Lasting, impactful changes happen on a physiological level. To get rid of self-destructive mindsets, you have to do something that’s not only emotional, but also experiential.

Talk therapy is useful, but more for maintenance—not for lasting change.

How To Change The Way You Seek Therapy:

Do a five-to-seven-day deep intensive. If you go to a deep intensive, talk therapy can keep you accountable and sharpen your mental tools for when you backslide into your own behavior.

To transform your thinking and get the most out of an intensive, you’ll rip through the layers of years of your behavior.

You’ll be crying. You’ll be upset. You’ll learn.

Then you’ll see this is reality, this is who you really are. And you will develop tools for separating yourself from the bag of shit you’ve been carrying around.

There are plenty of options for deep intensives. Neil is having one this August and another around New Year’s 2019.

And Neil compiled a lot of resources for healing trauma after writing The Truth. Start there…

…but it’s not enough.

If Therapy is Too Expensive…

It’s a horrible thing that dealing with your own mental health has become a rich person’s game: having good health insurance,  flexible time to meet a therapist during the work day, and the money to afford a therapist.

Everyone you encounter has a need to see a therapist. But so few can afford to do so.

It’s not fair, and it’s wrong.

(If anyone wants to start a discussion on this and has ideas on how we can get together as a society and teach emotional intelligence from the ground up, Neil is down for that discussion. Hit him up in the comments below.)

Here’s one solution:

Get together with four or five people who are struggling with similar things as you.

There are five men Neil knows in his neighborhood who are in relationships or new parents—they all get together and pool their funds for a therapist.

They meet at the same time each week. The therapist sits with them and they all have a talk therapy session together.

You can do it every other week if you need to. The point is to keep each other accountable.

During the week, they check in:

“Hey man what’s going on?”

The great thing about group therapy is that it is statistically shown to work better than individual therapy.

Here’s why: if Neil is just talking to a therapist and the therapist is telling him what’s wrong, Neil can just disagree.

But if Neil is sitting there with 5 people and they say, “hey, that’s really messed up what you’re doing,” then maybe they have a point.

When everyone is really hearing you and reflecting the same thing back to you, it’s a very helpful thing—especially if you can’t afford it.

Tips for setting up your own talk therapy with a small group:

  1.   Think of people who around you who are committed to lasting change.
  2.   Find a therapist (psychologist, social worker) who is on board with the format.
  3.   Expect confidentiality from the group.
  4.   Have healthy snacks available when you meet.
  5.   Host it at someone’s place with no interruptions.
  6.   Give yourself 10-30 minutes of solitary reflection after the session. Keep your phone off.
  7.   Take it seriously.

Take it seriously because it is your life. Your commitment to this defines the success of your relationships, careers, health, family—everything. It’s one of the most important things you can do.

Let Neil know in the comments if you already do this, or if you are now planning to start doing this—let’s keep each other accountable.

While Neil is writing books, Brian Fishbach is assisting Neil with his work. If you want to be on the inside, and learn the latest tools and techniques we are using here to improve our lives and the lives of others, then you’ll want to be part of this limited email distribution list. Click here while we’re still doing this.

5 Comments on “The Problem with Talk Therapy”

  1. This is the second time this week I’ve had someone mention accountability partners for therapy. Some people in an online group I’m a part of brought it up but I don’t know how real it can be online. Any thoughts? I don’t have a lot of people I deal with locally.

  2. A long time ago I was part of a therapy group. The opportunities for growth and change were so much greater than individual therapy has ever been. I’m a huge fan.

  3. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start.
    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Appreciate it

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