What Is Insight-Oriented Therapy?

insight oriented therapy

Insight Oriented Therapy

Have you ever noticed your present behavior getting affected by your past experiences? Maybe being more cautious with sharp knives because once it did cut you. Often, there are times when we see ourselves modifying our behavior and even our personality to adapt better to certain situations. This brings us to the basic goal of insight-oriented therapy which is understanding how past situations affect current behavior. The term insight basically means our capability to grasp a novel cognizance and make sense of it.

Since, the stigma about mental health is such that people find it difficult to talk and even understand the nitty gritties of therapy. Nonetheless, to make it more accessible it can be done online and via chats. Online therapy chat makes it easy for individuals to get help and resolve their conflicts along with a therapist and normalizing the stigma attached to it.

Let’s understand Insight oriented therapy

Often we see that online counselling or the therapy is not working out. One of the main reasons behind its lack of insight.

The basic assumption regarding insight oriented therapy is being a better functioning individual, the more you know yourself, the better you will function. Functions here stand for all the aspects of life, like professional, relationships, social etc. It helps us to understand why we behave a certain way and the driving force behind it. This self-awareness gives one freedom. Insight helps is breaking old and most mostly ineffective patterns of behaviour and devolving new and more effective patterns of behaviour.

Unconscious is of another important assumption. According to this, concerns, and discomforts, are rooted deep inside which one is not aware about at the moment. The problem arises from something happening within.

One of the basic elements of Insight oriented therapy is to resolve unresolved internal unconscious conflicts. These conflicts may give rise to a lot of symptoms like depression, anxiety, sexual concerns, low self-esteem and many more. Here comes the question of why going into such depth and not instantly working out on what’s going wrong? The fundamental logic behind is understanding the source of the problem which then becomes the stepping stone toward resolving the conflict. Often, the emerging symptoms prevent us from either recognizing or having a new experience which altogether acts as a block.

What to expect from the insight therapy?

The client is encouraged to recall situations from the past. The therapist analyse and identify pattern of behaviour, feelings and emotions that are ineffective in nature. Together, the therapist along with the client understand the motive behind various behaviour, inculcating new and effective patterns of behaviour.

What a counsellor does

The role of the counsellor is to bring it into the client’s awareness about how the current symptoms are stemming from the past and painful experiences. This is done by exploring the patterns of the clients which narrows it down to the themes coming out of it.

This exploration is generally done through an Experiential form of treatment. The experiential form takes into account poetry, art, role-plays, free association, and dream analysis as the major techniques. Often, the painful memories from the past are so deeply suppressed in our unconscious that it becomes difficult to even recognize their presence and its effects. Therefore, an expressive form of techniques makes it easy for the client to bring it into our consciousness.

Three approaches to insight oriented therapy

  1. Psychoanalysis- It basically focuses on the deeper levels of the clients’ experiences and behavior. It functions on a basic assumption that current behaviour is associated with unconscious memories.
  2. Humanistic therapy- It focuses on a person to be fully functioning. There are three types of humanistic therapy approaches namely,
    • Client-centered, it does not give emphasis to inner experiences but focus is rather on emotional well-being
    • Gestalt therapy, the focus is on being more self-aware and being aware of here and now.
    • Existential therpy, focuses on finding meaning.
  3. Intergrative therapy- It is a tailor-made approach according to the specific needs of the client. It combines more than one approach to prepare an intervention plan.


It is helpful for a wide variety of mental health illnesses like,

  • Anxiety and Depression – It helps in making people aware about the root cause of feelings of inadequacy and how it stemming from past experiences.
  • Eating disorders – Need to control is desired by people suffering from such illness. Insight oriented therapy helps them understand how this need is connected from their past experiences.
  • Substance abuse – It helps in instilling the motivation behind using drugs and effective coping ways for the same.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder– It helps in understanding the cause and how past experiences are manifesting in present-day behavior.
  • Psychosis – It helps in making patients gain insight with triggering episodes.

Stages of focused awareness

The following stages help in instilling awareness,

  • PREPARATION – Involves looking at various aspects of a problem. For instance, having issues with public speaking, and understanding what might have led to difficulty in it.
  • INCUBATION – This stage is a combination of brainstorming solutions, trial and error methods, and understanding the goal.
  • ILLUMINATION – It’s the moment when one finds the solution.
  • VERIFICATION – It involves figuring out whether the result is right or not. It is important for people who have trouble with public speaking because of constant self-doubt.

Few things to consider

Insight oriented therapy is a powerful tool yet there are few things to consider,

  • Willingness to explore thoughts and feelings – The process of therapy involves diving deep into the root concerns which can a painful process thus client’s willingness plays a huge role.
  • It is necessary for the clients to feel safe in order to discuss some sensitive issues. If the client does not feel comfortable with it then its communication becomes really important.
  • Making behaviour changes is important for the success of insight-oriented therapy. If there is unwillingness, then it becomes difficult for the success of the therapy.
  • Insight-oriented therapy requires consistency and attending regular sessions, if there’s irregularity then success is difficult.


A middle-aged woman was undergoing her cancer treatment and was having difficulty with the same. She was referred to a therapist wherein it was found that the issues were not in the treatment itself but was related to something in past. The patient was relating her present concerns with her past painful family memories. Her pelvic examination reminded her of her uncaring father. She felt as if she was giving herself to yet another uncaring man who could hurt her. Through a lot of sessions, an insight was developed in her regarding how her past unresolved issues are interfering with her present-day treatment. With insight, she was able to let the doctor start with her treatment.

Thus, to conclude the main goal of insight-oriented approach is to highlight the event from the past that might be the causal factor of a current dysfunctional pattern of behaviour, and make clients aware of their emotions, feelings, and motive behind their behaviour. Additionally, once the past is uncovered, here and now become the focus of attention.

Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how

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