What is Psychotherapy and its Different Approaches?

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Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is as its name suggest. Mental healthcare professionals use this method either by itself or in combination with medication for treating mental disorders. The end objective is to identify and explore troubling thoughts, emotions and behavior; and eliminate them to achieve an improved well-being. Psychotherapy helps a person cope with challenges and make them more resilient. It can be applied for many different types of mental disorders and used as well for couples, families or in a group setting. This makes it a popular and versatile treatment for many seeking out at improving their mental health.

There are many different types of approaches to psychotherapy. A psychologist will recommend an appropriate therapy after assessing the patient, but also based on his or her personality. Below are some of the common types:

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy explores the connection between the negative behavior or feelings that stems from unresolved past experiences, often from childhood. The goal is to recognize patterns between the unconscious mind and present-day actions. A person can talk about anything on his or her mind in this type of therapy so as to unravel and identify unconscious negative patterns that are deeply rooted by past experiences or unresolved feelings. Psychodynamic therapy is a long-term approach and often used for treating depression, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorders and other mental illnesses.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on the current state of mind and how a person can develop a more constructive way of thinking. This approach doesn’t focus much on past experiences. Instead, it identifies and replaces existing negative thoughts or beliefs with realistic ones. During CBT sessions, it’s common to keep a journal on everyday negative thoughts and work on changing them based on what’s learned in therapy. Studies have shown that CBT is and effective treatment for a wide array of mental disorders. This includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and eating disorder.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy is based on the principal that every person is unique and with the right environment can thrive and realize their full potential. It emphasizes on the person’s positive traits and behaviors and focuses on their ability to find a more fulfilling way of life. As such, the person undergoing the therapy will be the one directing the session. The goal is to find their specific needs or self-acceptance by discussing issues that are boggling them. In general, humanistic therapy can be useful for addressing self-esteem issues, effects of trauma, relationship issues or substance use disorder.

Choosing the right therapy can be daunting with so many different approaches. A healthcare provider can help with recommendations based on a person’s mental health diagnosis and needs. Support groups and online mental health platforms can also shed light on what are the different therapy options and how they work in resolving mental disorders. It is a difficult journey to embark but one that could lead to a more positive mental health and wellbeing.   

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