What is Therapy?

The definition of therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a mental illness or disorder. Therapy is meant to develop strategies and ways to deal with emotions and feelings that are usually out of a person’s control.

What is the purpose of Therapy?

The main purpose of therapy is to help treat personal and emotional challenges, and learn how to best live with or overcome the illnesses and disorders that may affect a person’s daily life.  There are many mental health illnesses that people can overcome through therapy, but it is important to seek out help from a professional.

Before an individual seeks out therapy, they should consider what outcome they are trying to achieve.  As with most meetings, whether it be personal or business related, it is important to understand your goals and objectives beforehand.  This not only gives the therapists direction, it also makes the best use of time for the patient.  If it is hard to pin point a goal or objective, most therapists should be able to work with an individual to come up with plan of action.

Benefits of Therapy

Through life, the majority of people experience many situations and events in which they have a hard time managing their feelings.  There aren’t many people that go through life without at least a few tough times that challenge a person’s emotional well-being.  Below is a list of common reasons to seek therapy.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Health problems
  • Spiritual Issues
  • Phobias
  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Family Issues
  • Relationship Issues
  • Substance Abuse Problems

Types of Therapy

Therapy can come in many different variations.  There is no one type of therapy for all mental illnesses and disorders, which leads to different types of effective therapy.  Below are some of the common forms of therapy that help in treating the different mental illnesses and disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT has two main components, cognitive and behavioral.  The cognitive side works to develop a positive attitude of a person’s life.  The behavioral side works to discontinue previous negative behaviors and turn them into positive behaviors.  CBT is used for a number of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – DBT, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), focuses on the psychological aspects of treatment.  DBT has most commonly been practiced among people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or have experienced suicidal thoughts or expressed suicidal intentions.  More recently, DBT has been used to treat mental illnesses such as depression, eating disorders, and PTSD.  When DBT is effective, it can decrease the frequency of self-destructive behavior, increase the motivation to make positive changes, and teach new coping skills.  It is said that most people will experience long periods of remission, but won’t recover completely.

Individual Therapy – Individual therapy, often called counseling, talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is a type of therapy that involves a patient and a trained therapist.  Individual therapy generally takes place in the private office of a trained therapist, but it can also take place in a hospital, mental health facility, work setting, school, over the phone, and even chat or video conferencing in some cases with the advancement of technology.  In therapy, it is important that the patient feel safe, secure, and know what they tell the therapist is confidential.  Without truly letting one’s guard down, most therapists will have trouble getting to the root of the cause.

Group Therapy – Group therapy is when two or more people participate in a therapy session with one or more trained therapist at the same time.  On a broad scale, group therapy can apply to a range personal disorders and problems including but not limited to eating disorders, anger management, and substance abuse.  Group therapy can take place in professional settings, places of worship, peoples’ homes, and even public places.  Group therapy can benefit those that go through improving self awareness and motivation to change, building trust and self-esteem, and feeling less isolated knowing others are facing similar problems.  To benefit from group therapy the most, individuals must be willing to participate and be open to talk about their problems and challenges.

Family Therapy – Family therapy can be helpful for many families because a patients’ family members are often times the people who can and will help aid the person back to recovery.  Family therapy can be helpful in any situation that causes stress, anger, conflict, or grief.

Marital/Couples Therapy – Couples therapy is typically more focused on everyday relationship problems and is designed to focus on managing situations and feelings.  Effective marital and couples therapists can help in how the relationship between two people is viewed, modifying dysfunctional behaviors, decreasing emotional avoidance, and improving communication.  Instead of only focusing on what is not working well, relationship and couples therapy also focuses on the strengths of the relationship.

Experiential Therapy – Experiential Therapy helps the patient differentiate between harmful or misguided thoughts from healthy emotions and thoughts.  While many types of therapy focus on the therapist being neutral, experiential therapy works when the therapist is supportive and empathetic.

Activity Therapy – Activity Therapy focuses on engaging in creative activities such as playing an instrument or engaging in creative writing to help overcome addiction and emotional issues.  Activity therapy works by diverting the focus on aches, pains, and discomfort to tasks that challenge the patient both physically and mentally.  Activity therapy can encourage socialization, relaxation, and help with daily living skills.  This type of therapy is suitable for all ages and can be done in a group or in a one on one setting.

Types of Therapists

Psychiatrist – A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats mental illnesses.  Psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals in some states that are legally allowed to provide prescriptions for medication.  Some patients only see Psychiatrists to get a prescription while others see psychiatrists for prescriptions and talk therapy.

Psychologist – Psychologist help patients talk through their problems and help them come up with strategies for coping and solutions.

Evolution of Therapy

Different types of therapies are always emerging and evolving.  One of the more popular therapies among patients these days is animal assisted therapy.   Today, you will often see companion animals such as dogs and cats in hospitals, nursing homes, and psychiatric wards.  There has been no major study on this type of therapy as of today, but the people who are involved with this type of therapy feel they see a benefit.

How long does Therapy Take?

According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the average number of therapy visits for a specific treatment ranges between 3-10 visits.   1 in 9 people had more than 20 therapy sessions for treatment.

Factors that attribute to length of therapy include insurance contribution, personal finances, work schedules, type of disorders or problems being treated, and the goals of the patient.

Is therapy the best solution for help?

Therapy is usually the best option to overcoming personal illnesses, fears, and phobias.  When therapy is not enough, a combination of therapy and prescribed medication can help.

When choosing a therapist, one of the most important factors to consider is whether a person is comfortable speaking with the therapist.  Unless a person is truly comfortable speaking with a therapist, they usually will not be able to truly resolve their problems.