Which therapy is right for me?
Studies have shown that psychotherapy, alone or in combination with medication therapy, can significantly reduce depression and anxiety for most people.
What are some of the most common traditional mental health therapies and which one(s) are right for you?
Mental health professionals use a variety of approaches to give people tools to deal with ingrained, troublesome patterns of behavior and to help them manage symptoms of mental illness. The best therapists will work with you to design a treatment plan that will be most effective for you. This sometimes involves a single method, or it may involve elements of several different methods.
Behavioral Therapy: This approach focuses on behavior: changing unwanted behaviors through rewards, reinforcements, and desensitization. Desensitization, or Exposure Therapy, is a process of confronting something that arouses anxiety, discomfort, or fear and overcoming the unwanted responses.
Biomedical Treatment: Medication alone, or in combination with psychotherapy, has proven to be an effective treatment for a number of emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. The kind of medication a psychiatrist prescribes varies with the disorder and the individual being treated.
Cognitive Therapy: This method aims to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns that can lead to feelings and behaviors that may be troublesome, self-defeating, or even self-destructive. The goal is to replace such thinking with a more balanced view that, in turn, leads to more fulfilling and productive behavior. Cognitive therapy is sometimes combined with Behavioral therapy.
Couples Counseling and Family Therapy: These approaches to therapy involve discussions and problem-solving sessions facilitated by a therapist–sometimes with the couple or entire family group, sometimes with individuals. Such therapy can help couples and family members improve their understanding of, and the way they respond to, one another, resolving patterns of behavior that might lead to more severe mental illness.
This method involves groups of usually 4 to 12 people who have similar problems and who meet regularly with a therapist. The therapist uses the emotional interactions of the group’s members to help them get relief from distress and possibly modify their behavior.
Psychoanalysis: This approach focuses on past conflicts as the underpinnings to current emotional and behavioral problems. In this long-term and intensive therapy, an individual meets with a psychoanalyst three to five times a week, using “free association” to explore unconscious motivations and earlier, unproductive patterns of resolving issues.
Electroconvulsive Therapy: Also known as ECT, this highly controversial technique uses low voltage electrical stimulation of the brain to treat some forms of major depression, acute mania, and some forms of schizophrenia. This potentially life-saving technique is considered only when other therapies have failed, when a person is seriously medically ill and/or unable to take medication, or when a person is very likely to commit suicide.