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…