Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, PTDS, or any other form of mental illness, psychotherapy may be worth considering. Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is designed to help you learn problem-solving skills that can lead to changes in behaviour patterns. Also, it can aid in finding ways to cope with the negative feelings that accompany most mental health disorders like being overly self-critical and self-loathing, for example. In this article, we will take a closer look at what psychotherapy entails and why it is so helpful in treating mental health problems.
HOW DOES PSYCHOTHERAPY WORK?
Psychotherapy places a strong emphasis on “talking through your problems” and working towards resolving them. In most cases, patients are encouraged to track their progress throughout their treatment sessions by writing down their thoughts and tracking mood changes. For those who are trying to overcome anxiety, psychotherapy may include engaging in social activities that may have previously resulted in anxiety.
The rationale behind this approach is to help the patient become desensitized to events that can trigger feelings of anxiousness. All in all, psychotherapy is delineated by short counselling sessions aimed at focusing on the patient’s current thoughts, feeling, and general problems that impede them from living a truly fulfilled life. That said, frequent psychotherapy sessions may be needed early on, but they will become less frequent as you progress through therapy.
COPING SKILLS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
Now that we have a general idea of what psychotherapy entails let’s take a moment to explore how it changes thought patterns and feelings that can contribute to mental illness. In each psychotherapy session, you will learn the following steps to cope with your mental health problems:
- Accepting and understanding mental health problem
- Managing your stress
- Learning to cope with crises
- Identifying why thing bother you
- How to avoid destructive habits
- Identifying your triggers
- How to cope with your fears and insecurities
- Setting wellness goals
- Learning how to better understand traumatic life experiences
- Separating true personality traits from those brought on by mental illness
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FORM OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
When it comes to choosing the right type of psychotherapy, your mental health problem will likely dictate which option is right for you. That said, psychotherapy treatments can include CBT, family-focused therapy, DBT, or IPT. Having established what is available, let’s take a closer look at what these specific treatments entail:
CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy
) – This form of psychotherapy is goal-oriented and is best suited for patients willing to take an active role in overcoming their mental health problems. CBT generally involves recognizing automatic thoughts or beliefs that translate into negative feelings, emotions, or patterns of behaviour. Your CBT therapist works to help you identify thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are false and nonproductive and helps you through the process of changing them. It is worth noting that CBT works best for patients who have a calm and open to suggestions as it creates an opportunity for them take actionable steps toward achieving planned goals.
FFT (Family Focused Therapy)
– This form of psychotherapy helps identify challenges and conflicts with family members as they may be contributing to a patient’s mental health problems. Family-focused therapy is intended to help the individual and family members find productive ways to resolve conflicts and other familial problems. To accomplish this goal, therapists will explain in detail the patient’s mental health diagnosis and how the family can help them in overcoming it.
Family-focused therapy also benefits the patient’s family in that it teaches them how to cope with the stress that comes with taking care of a relative diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Why is family-focused therapy so beneficial? Well, it helps minimize the burn out that family members invariably experience when caring for a loved one with a mental health disorder. Beyond that, it allows the patient to concentrate on overcoming their problems without feeling like they have become a burden on their family.
DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
– DBT is a cognitive behaviour therapy variant that helps patients in understanding that their challenges, behaviour, and feelings are valid and shouldn’t be a source of shame, which is especially helpful for those struggling with depression or anxiety. Also, DBT therapists work to help patients understand that when it comes to changing unhealthy or disruptive behaviour, the onus falls on them. It is also worth noting that DBT can be in the form of individual or group therapy.
IPT (Interpersonal Therapy)
– This form of therapy places a strong emphasis on time and achieving goals. Unlike CBT and DBT, interpersonal therapy focuses on resolving present-day problems as opposed to addressing what may have contributed them. Some may argue that this is not the best way to resolve a mental health problem, but it has proven to be effective for some patients. How does it work, you ask? IPT addresses your mental health symptoms and social relationships that you may have. This information is then used to implement social adjustments that can help ease anxious or depressive symptoms, for example, without changing the patient’s personality.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OF YOUR PSYCHOTHERAPY SESSIONS
Although your therapist will be doing most of the “heavy lifting,” you will be responsible for pulling your own weight in your psychotherapy sessions. To get the most out of these sessions, consider writing down a list of problems you would like to address; the list can include
- Thought of self-harm
- Managing irritability or anxiety
- Relationship problems
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Having an idea about the problems you want to address during therapy can help make them more productive. It is also helpful to note that during your initial sessions your therapist will be doing more listening than talking; this is nothing to be concerned about as it is completely normal. Your therapist will be trying to assess your mental health problem, and this requires patience and good listening skills, which, coincidentally are the hallmarks of a good therapist. Although your therapist will be intent on listening while you’re discussing your problems, don’t hesitate to ask them questions as it can help decide whether he or she is a good fit for you.
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO OFFER PSYCHOTHERAPY
If you’re considering psychotherapy to resolve depression, anxiety, or any other mental health disorder, you’re probably also wondering how to go about choosing a therapist. If so, you’re encouraged to continue reading. Most licensed mental health professionals are well-versed in psychotherapy. These mental health professionals include social workers, psychiatrist, counsellors and, in some cases, psychiatric nurses.
To that point, it is a good idea to execute due diligence in choosing the right mental health professional to help you cope with and, most importantly, overcome your mental health problems. It is equally important to be as honest as possible during your treatment sessions as it can provide an opportunity to make appreciable progress.
In summation, psychotherapy is a great way to identify the underlying problems that may be contributing to your mental health problems. While certain pharmacotherapies are also effective, they only provide a short-term fix. The ability to talk through your problems with a licensed mental health professional, on the other hand, can offer long-term solutions that are not only sustainable but also effective. If you’re struggling with any form of mental illness, you’re encouraged to try one of the psychotherapy methods outlined in this article before resorting to taking medication that could potentially cause undesirable side effects.