Identity can often be boiled down to a simple question - “Who am I?”. Our personal identity relates to the basic values that dictate the choices we make in life, such as our relationships or our career. Psychologists understand our identity as our self-image, which is shaped by the values of our parents, peers, and culture that we have internalised from a young age.
Identity can refer to certain traits including our race, gender, or ethnicity. Parts of our identity can change over time, such as the languages we speak or our religious preferences.
While struggling with our sense of self and identity can be seen as a normal part of our development and maturity, identity issues can arise if we fail to establish a strong sense of self. If you feel that the values you have internalised do not align with your authentic self, you may be left feeling unfulfilled and anxieties and insecurities may arise.
Individuals struggling with identity issues may experience symptoms of depression, hopelessness, addiction, and more. Therapy can allow individuals who are struggling with their identity to discuss their thoughts in a safe and confidential environment. A therapist can work with you to reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety that you may be feeling and help you to develop ways of coping with the challenges associated with identity issues.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of identity issues. This form of talking therapy combines both cognitive and behavioural therapies. Cognitive therapy examines how our thoughts can affect our feelings and mood, while behavioural therapy is used to identify the links between our behaviours and thoughts.
A cognitive behaviour therapist will help you to recognise negative or self-defeating thought patterns and teach you how to replace them with healthier beliefs and habits of thinking. As some individuals with identity issues believe that they are worthless or rely on the opinions of others to form a sense of self, cognitive behavioural therapy can be useful in breaking down these fears and building a better understanding of one’s self.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly effective in treating identity issues that manifest in chronic or low-level depressive behaviour. It is also helpful for individuals who experience symptoms of anxiety due to their struggles with identity.
If you are struggling with issues related to your identity, therapy can help you to find new ways forward. Therapy helps you to find your own voice and strengthens your sense of self.
If you are looking for a therapist who specialises in helping with identity issues, see our recommended therapists below or view their profiles here.
At Harley Therapy, we vet our therapists to ensure that they are registered and insured to practice as a therapist in the UK. We check that they are registered members of UK professional bodies, to ensure that all of our therapists have completed the professional training necessary to work as a licensed practitioner.