Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by speaking with a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or any such mental health providers. During psychotherapy, an individual learns about their condition as well as any associated moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Through psychotherapy you can learn how to take back control of your life and respond to challenging situations with healthy coping mechanisms. Psychotherapy is also commonly known as talk therapy, counselling, therapy, or psychosocial therapy. There are also many types of psychotherapy, each offering its own approach.
The type of psychotherapy that would be right for you would depend on each individuals specific situation. However, in many cases, therapists would use a combination of techniques to treat some disorders and conditions. Some types of psychotherapy are listed below:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Usually starts with the idea that what we think shapes how we feel and so looks at current thinking and communication patterns. The therapist works with the client to confront and challenge inappropriate thoughts and behaviors and help them replace them with healthy ones. It can be used to treat conditions such as depression and PTSD.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy – This helps you become aware of and accept your thoughts and feelings and then commit to making changes which increases your ability to cope with and adjust to different situations.
- Supportive psychotherapy – Aims to reinforce an individual’s ability to cope with stress and difficult situations.
- Dialectical behavior therapy – A form of CBT that teaches behavioral skills to help you handle stress, manage your emotions and improve relationships with others.
- Group Therapy – This usually involves 6-12 clients and one therapist. Clients usually have similar problems and would usually benefit from observing how others handle their issues and respond to feedback. In addition getting feedback from other people with related problems can give new insights and perspective and help facilitate improvement and change. It can also help those who may feel a sense of isolation because of their issue. An example of this is Alcoholics Anonymous(AA).
- Interpersonal psychotherapy – Focuses on addressing problems with your current relationships with other people to improve your interpersonal skills, how you relate to others such as friends, family and colleagues.
Reasons For Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is mainly used for treating a large number of mental health problems, including but not limited to:
- Anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic disorder, PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD).
- Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
- Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder.
- Addictions such as alcoholism, drug dependence or compulsive gambling.
- Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.
- Schizophrenia or similar disorders that cause detachment from reality (psychotic disorders).
It is important to note that psychotherapy is not the automatic solution for all mental illnesses and not everyone will necessarily benefit from It. But when done properly psychotherapy can be as effective as medications such as anti-depressants.
You also do not necessarily need to have a mental illness in order to receive psychotherapy as it can help with a number of life’s stresses and conflicts that can affect anyone. For example, it may help you:
- Relieve anxiety or stress.
- Recover from physical or sexual abuse.
- Resolve conflicts.
- Learn to manage unhealthy reactions such as anger issues.
- Cope with major life changes such as divorce, death of a family member etc.
- Improve sleep.
How To Get Started
To get a therapy session you generally have to:
- Find a therapist – If possible get a referral from a doctor, health insurance plan, friend or a trusted source. If not, you can find a therapist on your own by looking for a professional association on the internet or around you locally.
- Understand the costs – Find out what your insurance offers in terms of coverage for psychotherapy. Some only cover a certain number of sessions a year while others allow none at all. Talk to your therapist to about fees and payment options.
- Review any concerns – It is important to think about any issues you’d like to work on before your appointment. While this will be addressed during the session, it can provide a good starting point with you and your therapist.