4 Ways Therapy Can Benefit Introverts

An introvert talks to a therapist

When introverts work with a therapist, they gain a companion and guide for their introspective journey. 

Psychotherapy and introversion make perfect partners. Deep thinking, introspective, highly sensitive, and quiet intelligent beings benefit greatly from a one-on-one relationship with a skilled, empathetic listener and guide. They can help you if:

  • you have grown up with abuse or neglect
  • you need support through challenging events
  • you are confused about your career paths and relationships
  • you are feeling anxious or depressed 
  • you just want an objective person to help you figure things out

I have been a psychotherapist for over 25 years. I have also been a client in various forms of therapy for about as long. And I am an introvert. I can attest to the power of the psychotherapeutic path. It has certainly made all the difference for me. All the difference. And it can make a difference for you, too.

4 Ways Therapy Can Benefit Introverts

1. You have a companion and guide for your introspective journey to self-confidence, self-love, meaning, and purpose.

If you have grown up with abuse, neglect, alcoholism, or in a seriously dysfunctional family system, it will be important to work with a trained therapist to identify the wounds that were inflicted and to heal them. This is not what some people call “victim-ology” or self-absorption. It is not even about blaming your parents. It is, however, about uncovering the truth about what happened in your family and seeing how those family dynamics have impacted your sense of identity and confidence. You can explore how your view of yourself was distorted and damaged, and how it influences your present relationships and life choices.   

Therapy is beneficial when you have experienced a breakup, career change, death of a loved one, or a midlife crisis, as well. But, you do not have to have had serious trauma in childhood to benefit from the support of a professional. Daily stresses can provoke anxiety or depression in any of us at any time. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is a strength to know when you need to reach out for guidance. 

There are many techniques in therapy. I prefer the deep-dive versions where you closely examine the dysfunctional legacy you inherited and, over time, allow yourself to grieve any losses you experienced. It is sometimes called attachment theory (or psychodynamic therapy). Both of these are based on the power of the early relationships with caregivers to influence your sense of safety and well-being in the world. Another modality is called Somatic Experiencing, which is a more body-based therapy.  

These approaches might include finding the places in your body that hold the unexpressed pain, anger, and grief — and learning how to gently release them. Or they can involve “rescuing” the child parts of yourself that were abused and re-parenting them. It is not a quick fix. It takes time. But it can lead to real, significant change: increased self-love, self-confidence, and learning to live a life of meaning and purpose. As an introvert, the deep dive might also be your preferred mode of inner exploration because of your innate desire for depth, complexity, and transformation. 

Over the years, I have had more than one therapist and experienced several approaches. I recommend my clients engage in different healing methods as their needs change. Support groups, bodywork, acupuncture, energy work, meditation, yoga, shamanic journeying, enneagram study, dance, music therapy, self-compassion practices, and more, are just some examples. I believe having an experienced and sensitive psychotherapist is key for the deep transformational work, and yet, your guides and support can change over time. 

2. Your relationships improve as you learn to set boundaries, to select healthier friends and partners, and to express your needs. 

Chances are, you notice patterns in your selection of friends and partners. Perhaps you find yourself with extra needy friends, narcissistic partners, or alcoholic coworkers. A therapist can help you understand how early experiences set up certain beliefs and behaviors that continue to replay throughout your life until you become conscious of them and work to change them. These patterns are subtle and hard to detect without a trained eye. 

Even with their training, oftentimes therapists need therapy themselves to help uncover their own recurring themes. I may be able to clearly see how my client is drawn to abusive men because she grew up in a violent home. Unconsciously, she is seeking the familiar and what she has come to believe love looks like. 

But I needed my own therapist to point out how my pattern of choosing men (who are afraid to examine their own dysfunctional past) is a repetition of my own early family dynamics. I had my own support person so I could fill myself back up after a particularly intense week. This way, I moved my own “baggage” out of the way so it would not intrude on sessions with my clients.

As you gain insight and grieve your losses, you acquire the confidence you need to speak up for yourself, to say “no” when you need to, and to end relationships that are abusive (emotionally and/or physically). Then, more appropriate friends and coworkers find you, the ones who “get” you. You attract partners who are better communicators and who are willing to examine their own shame and do the work necessary to grow and heal. Thus, deeper, more connected relationships are possible.

3. You get to be the center of attention for once. Finally, someone is listening to you.

As an introvert, you have a rich inner life. But it can be lonely. You may yearn for a close companion you could confide in. But they can be hard to find. You may be the best listener in your family and with your friends, but they may not know how to reciprocate. This was definitely the case for me. When I found my first therapist back when I was in my 30s, I was thrilled to be with such an attentive listener and caring, intelligent person. I loved going to therapy!

In therapy, you do not have to worry about your therapist’s needs. It is all about you. And this is good. 

Of course, it will be important you find a good match, because not every therapist will have the sensitivity, empathy, and experience you need. You may want to have sessions with a few therapists before you find the right fit. This will not be easy. But it will be worth it. You want someone who understands and appreciates your introversion.

It will also be important to be as open as you can, over time, as your trust builds. It may be hard to be vulnerable at first. Know that you have a right to take your time. Therapy is not about tearing away your coping strategies. Many of my clients carry shame from the past and were not safe in their homes to share their feelings. I encourage them to be gentle with themselves and I let them know all of their feelings are welcome. They often feel great relief to finally have a safe place to be all of who they are. 

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4. The legacy of abuse, neglect, alcoholism, or other dysfunctional patterns stops with you. 

When you have the courage to take the journey that is sometimes called the dark night of the soul, you are not only helping yourself. You are, in fact, protecting your children from the legacy that was handed to you. 

Even if you are very self-aware, you can still repeat old family patterns if you don’t get assistance. Clients have told me they finally came to therapy when they heard their parents’ voices coming out of their mouths. They were determined to be different from their parents — and they were in many ways — but there were still subtle behaviors and beliefs that were haunting them. They still blamed themselves for not being good enough or felt a sense of worthlessness even in their successful careers. The impact of family dynamics can be enormous.    

It is tricky, though, because different therapists will have different ideas for ways for you to confront your past. (Some may even say the past is not relevant.) Others will suggest techniques such as changing your thinking (cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT) or medication and call it good. And, I admit, for some folks, medication is important or CBT may be just the thing. Or, if you do not choose the deep dive approach, a journal can be your quiet companion. The dive is not for everyone. 

But the past is relevant. This I know. I see it every day. In my clients. In myself.

I also know this: Even if you do not have children, it is important to stop the dysfunctional legacy in your family line. Your healing is contributing to the growth and transformation of the collective. We are all connected. As you heal your part of the web, as you mend your broken heart, all beings benefit. And, as you do your inner work, your outer life transforms and you are better able to build a life of love, meaning, and purpose.

So, Should You Try Therapy? … Yes!

So, should you try therapy? I say, yes! Of course, I am biased. I am a psychotherapist, after all. But I can tell you from my experience as both a therapist and a client, I have seen powerful results in myself and the courageous folks with whom I work. Self-confidence. Self-compassion. Deepening, loving, satisfying relationships. Successful careers. Radiant children. Powerful contributions to a better world. And, yes, transformation, redemption, and a healing of your broken heart. You’ll see.

For more examples, suggestions, and resources, read Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth

Want to get one-on-one help from an introvert-knowledgeable therapist? We’ve personally used and recommend BetterHelp for therapy. It’s private, affordable, and takes place online. Introvert, Dear readers get 10% off their first month. Click here to learn more.

We receive compensation from BetterHelp when you use our referral link. We only recommend products when we believe in them.

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Written By

Paula Prober is a licensed psychotherapist, consultant, author, blogger, and tango dancer in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. She consults internationally with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. Her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is an in-depth look at giftedness in adults and teens via case studies of therapy clients. She blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, a blog in support of the excessively curious, creative, smart, and sensitive. Paula’s new book, Journey into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019. You can find it at your independent bookstore or on Amazon here.