Everyone, at some point in their life, needs help with their problems. Certain issues, however, are more complex and cannot be effectively managed through self-help or talking with family and friends. Therapists are trained to assist you with your more serious troubles. That is where psychotherapy comes in.
Psychotherapy is talking with a mental health professional to solve your problems. These difficulties may involve psychological disorders, sub-clinical issues, relationship troubles, or situational problems arising from life events. Psychotherapy can happen in-person or online through video teleconferencing and electronic communication.
Psychotherapy takes on many different forms. Therapists are trained in different theoretical orientations which they use in their work. Here are the most common approaches:
CBT is probably the most common form of psychotherapy and has influenced many other orientations. It involves changing maladaptive behaviors and thinking patterns to improve overall functioning. It is a briefer therapy that focuses on the present rather than delving into the past.
DBT was originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder but has since been adapted for numerous issues, including depression and eating disorders. Its focus is to teach skills to enhance mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and relationship stability.
ACT is another approach with roots in CBT, albeit with some important differences. Whereas CBT prioritizes changing thoughts, ACT emphasizes acceptance of thoughts and commitment toward meaningful change. Mindfulness is a key component in learning to accept thoughts and emotions.
Behavioral psychotherapy relies on the premise that behavior is learned from the environment. It aims to change negative behaviors through positive reinforcement and reconstructing learned associations.
Popularized by Carl Rogers, humanistic psychotherapy centers on the client’s journey toward self-actualization. Therapy is led by the client while the therapist employs active listening. The goal is for the therapist to help his or her client gain the necessary insight into their world to implement positive change.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy, unlike CBT, focuses on past influences that shape our current personality. The focus is on uncovering unconscious motivations that fuel our present emotions and behavior. There is an emphasis on parental upbringing, particularly a person’s relationship with their mother, as integral to their development.
As its name suggests, interpersonal therapy focuses on relationship issues that have led to personal distress. It is a time-limited intervention whose aim is to improve current interpersonal relationships with the belief that those interactions are the source of mood problems and other issues.
Play therapy is an alternative therapy that’s used with younger children who have not yet developed the cognitive abilities to comprehend and express themselves verbally. Based on psychodynamic principles, it helps children work on psychological issues through themes in their play.
Realistically speaking, most therapists are probably integrative in their approach. They tend not to be married to one theoretical orientation. Instead, they draw from different approaches as it fits the needs of their client(s).
Although one-on-one therapy is probably the most well-known, there are many formats utilized by therapists to address problems. In fact, many difficulties cannot be effectively dealt with through one-to-one therapy. It should be noted that many different approaches can be used while engaging in distinct formats. The following are the different psychotherapy formats:
Individual therapy is when a client and a therapist are the primary people engaged in the therapeutic process. While almost all sessions will be one-on-one, it should be noted that a therapist may ask an individual client to bring in a partner or family member for an occasional session if they feel it will help address the client’s issues.
Couples therapy is counseling where two people are seen by a therapist. Traditionally, this is most often used by married partners but any two people trying to work out problems can participate in couples therapy.
Family therapy is for families that are dealing with difficult issues. The therapy explores family dynamics that may be contributing to the problems of one or more family members. It is important to note that people do not all have to be biologically related to be involved in family therapy.
Group therapy brings together disparate people to address a common problem. It can be content-oriented, such as a time-limited psycho-educational group or more process-oriented, like you would find in an open-ended support group.
People often visit a therapist not quite knowing what they need to do to address a problem. In a consultation, a therapist compiles information regarding a situation and recommends the next step of treatment, which may or may not include further psychotherapy. As selecting the most appropriate course of treatment can impact the overall effectiveness psychotherapy, choosing an experienced professional therapist from the onset is recommended