Problems of Living

People come into therapy for various reasons. There are some people who have what are diagnosable mental disorders. People with severe depression (known as Major Depressive Disorder), Bipolar Disorder, and eating disorders suffer from such mental illnesses. Usually treatment for these clients requires a combination of psychotherapy and medication management. While these disorders are serious and often persistent, my work with such clients shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment to help people manage their condition and lead more satisfying lives.

The majority of people who enter psychotherapy, however, do not have such diagnosable conditions. Instead, these people have what I refer to as “problems of living.” People come to therapy because of loneliness, because of the difficulty of forming intimate and satisfying connections with others. People come to therapy because of their relationships with themselves, often having low self-esteem and harsh inner critics. These are situations that are common in this life. Perhaps a person is struggling with career or a job (a common problem these days). Perhaps another person is still haunted by past traumas that continue to affect him or her today. These are what I call problems of living.

While life has such joy and satisfaction, it is not easy. I’m reminded of a line by the Russian poet Pasternak: “Life is not a stroll across the fields.” Of course, it includes strolling across the fields, lazy days under sunny skies, time with loved ones. But life, like relationships, can also be hard and take work. This is the work of psychotherapy.

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