Case Study

Case Study

“Nobody Knows!”: Helping Introverts Appreciate Their Strengths

By Michael Alcée

November/December 2018

It’s easy for introverts to fall under the therapeutic radar. They often come to us for help with anxiety, depression, and relationship difficulties, and we typically offer them our usual trusted treatments for these common issues without pausing to take their personalities—or more accurately, their temperaments—into account. But there’s a direct link between their mental health issues and how they’re misunderstood and alienated by a culture that expects and rewards extraversion at every turn.

This invisible pressure contributes to the introverts I’ve seen in my practice becoming discouraged with therapy, as session after session fails to get to the heart of their feelings of failure, inadequacy, and disconnection. And I can attest that it makes treatment, from the therapist’s perspective, frustrating as well.

Recently, Susan Cain’s popular TED talk, “The Power of Introverts,” and her bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, have led some businesses and colleges to think anew about the strengths and contributions of introverts, a group, according to Cain, that makes up a full one-third to one-half of the population. But ironically, today’s psychotherapy world continues to pay introversion little mind, despite its first being named and popularized by our own eminent analyst Carl Jung and the mother-daughter team of Myers-Briggs, who created the personality type indicator.

Why have we lost sight of the…

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Saturday, October 12, 2019 9:04:09 PM | posted by ellenfox
Dear Doctor Alcee, Right on! This is exactly how I (an introvert) work with my introverted clients. It is such a relief when the find out that there is nothing wrong with them. I give them material on introversion, and on the Highly Sensitive Person. I love the idea of the group. Maybe I'll do one like that. I feel that my own introversion is especially helpful to these folks as I truly understand them and thus they grow to understand themselves. Thanks for the article.

Saturday, October 12, 2019 4:14:55 PM | posted by Kate Cohen-Posey
This is a good example of therapy needing to fit the person not visa versa! Studying the Enneagram has become an invaluable tool for me. I currently have a case of an introvert who thinks he has "social phobia." In the Enneagram he is a type 5--independent, easily does things on his own and prefers to observe rather than experience life. I have challenged his belief that he should be more engaged with people by asking him if he WANTS to be more interactive. In a group setting, I suggested that he ask himself if there is anything he wants to know about/from the people there and only push himself to interact if he is lead by his curiosity.