Insight-oriented psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach that focuses on developing an understanding of the interanl processes inside oneself. Understanding one’s past relationship connections and how they enter into the here and now, in terms of one’s thoughts/beliefs, felings, and behaviors, is the essence of insight-oriented therapy.
This approach occurs during intimate conversation – between client and others (typically, a therapist trained in this approach), client and self, and client and God/Higher Power. Although “it can be distressing for a person to reveal thoughts and feelings that he or she may experience as embarrassing or shameful” there are great emotional benefits to be had in doing so. The University of Toronto Counseling and Psychological Services states that “insight-oriented psychotherapy can be effective for many clinical conditions including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and some personality disorders.” It is our belief that in talking out more uncomfortable memories and thoughts, you can make progress in discovering the root issues that have caused the emotional distress both in the past and currently.
Although this approach sounds simple enough it can be very difficult, if not impossible for some clients to reveal their honest troubles to both themselves and their therapists. This approach can only be effective if the client is able to get completely honest with his or her therapist so that the emotional healing process can begin. Insight-oriented psychotherapy, as a practice, relies on the “belief that psychiatric symptoms and patterns of behavior, are partially determined by unconscious forces related to a patient’s early life experience.” We find that clients (especially with ED) have internalized events in their early lifetime and these events subconsciously affect their everyday living and emotional security. In this particular method of therapy the patient “is encouraged to speak as freely as possible while the therapist listens in an empathetic way, paying attention to the felling component of the material including any discomfort or anxiety that the patient experiences.” So it is through an honest and open dialogue that the therapist can help the client to identify underlying issues that may be causing him or her to experience emotional distress. (“Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy”, University of Toronto Counseling and Psychological Services)
When developing insight, it is typically common to experience it in an “a-ha!” or “lightbulb” moment. Many times in my practice, clients typically state, “I’ve never thought of it that way.” When having an insightful mement, it is usually felt by the client as having a “mental shift” that yields a more empowering position in the relationship or situation with which they have been struggling.
Although insight-oriented therapy does not necessarily provide a “cure-all” for eating disordered behaviors, this type of learning, in conjunction with others, can help a client to rationally stop doing a behavior once they understand it. This, ultimately, leads to healing and freedom from the behavior.