Talk therapy is very common, and the technical term for it is Psychotherapy. The process involves talking to a professional therapist in a safe, confidential location. The purpose of the discussions is exploring feelings, learning better ways to cope with situations, and identifying behaviours that are healthy to engage in.
Each of us has circumstances that have shaped our thoughts and behaviours. Some of them serve us well. Others are cycles that need to end, but we don’t know how to do that on our own. With the help of Psychotherapy, we can learn new ways to engage that are healthier and get positive results. This can help us with relationships, boost self-esteem, and lower the risk of symptoms from mental health conditions.
The discussions in Psychotherapy sessions depend on the underlying issues. The therapist will conduct a detailed assessment. Armed with that information, they can discuss with the client the priority issues they wish to address first. You can’t change it all at once. Often, the core elements are worked on and they radiate outward. They cause positive benefits for many aspects of a person’s life.
Talking about current issues is a good place to start. However, during therapy, it is often found they are linked to past scenarios. Sometimes, thoughts and behaviours are the results of subconscious elements. We have to explore them piece by piece before we can make changes to that foundation. Introducing a new narrative for future behaviours and actions are important.
For mental health concerns, the use of therapy sessions combined with medication can be ideal. Psychotherapy is typically something that takes place one-on-one. There are times when couple’s sessions or family sessions are completed though. This is encouraged when the therapist believes it will help everyone involved to change attitudes, perceptions, and actions. Breaking those negative cycles is extremely important.
Types of Psychotherapy
The right type of Psychotherapy for someone depends on their personality, the type of mental health care they need, and other factors. It is important for the therapist to identify the best math for the desired outcome. If that doesn’t seem to work well, they can modify the treatment plan and try something new. It is common for more than one type of Psychotherapy to be conducted in the same treatment plan. These are the most common introduced into therapy sessions:
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
- Exposure Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT)
- Pet Therapy
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Exploring how a person thinks, behaves, and their actions is important in therapy. Why do some people stay calm and collected in a scenario while someone else flies off the handle? Why do some look for solutions and others are always negative with their thoughts? A therapist identifies these patterns and points out where there are weak links. When a person is self-sabotaging due to their behaviours, that cycle has to be stopped.
The goal of CBT is to replace those negative behaviours with better ones. When a person feels a trigger coming on to act one way, they will use the techniques they were given in therapy to react in a better way. The result is an outcome that is healthier. In time, the new behaviour becomes natural to the person. CBT is effective when someone lacks self-esteem. Any time they start to think negatively, it is replied with a positive “I” statement.
It takes time for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to work, and patients have to know this from the start. It can shake them to their core, as they have to analyse why they feel or react certain ways. It may be due to how they were raised or what they were exposed to growing up. It could be due to what they feel society expects from them.
CBT provides techniques to empower someone so they don’t regress because they are losing control. It involves journaling and being honest about how they feel. CBT is often used to help with eating disorders, depression, PTSD, and Anxiety Disorders.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
Initially, DBT was introduced to assist those with suicidal thoughts. Today, it is a form of treatment often used for those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It often goes hand in hand with CBT. One of the core differences though is DBT focuses on accepting the negative or uneasy thoughts instead of trying to change them.
When a person can come to grips with the unsettling thoughts in their mind, they can start to see it is possible to then change. People with these types of mental illnesses can’t change until they see that bigger picture. The plan for recovery moves along very slowly. It may be two steps forward and then three steps back at times.
With DBT, the therapist is trying to help the individual find a balance. This even keel is necessary for those struggling with extreme highs and lows. The rollercoaster ride takes a huge toll on them physically and mentally. This type of therapy reduces the highs and lows and keeps them as level as possible. During this levelling out period, they seem receptive to change and the introduction of better coping concepts.
The therapy sessions often end with homework and exercises for the patient to try during their daily routine. They will report in the next session how they used them and the outcomes. When effective coping strategies are utilized, the symptoms of mental health conditions are reduced. It can lower the risk of impulsive behaviours or acting out in anger.
DBT is designed to promote and support positive changes to the mindset. Patients use positive reinforcement to evaluate what they did well and what needs to be improved upon. These small changes add up to significant differences in how they live their daily lives.
Eye Movement Desensitising Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
This is a common type of Psychotherapy for those with a diagnosis of PTSD. It can reduce the amount of trauma they experience from the memories they relieve again and again. With EMDR, the goal is to replace those harmful emotions with something that takes up less energy. When possible, it is replaced with something positive.
This exercise involves back and forth rapid movement of the eyes for about 30 seconds. It can help someone change the way they see the situation unfold and the reaction they have to those memories. This is often called dual stimulation in therapy. The brain is stimulated by the back and forth movement of the eyes.
As the memories are recounted the stimulation of the brain may lessen the harshness of those memories. Not all therapists use EMDR because it is controversial. It doesn’t work for everyone with PTSD. It may be a treatment option your therapist recommends to see how you respond to it.
While Exposure Therapy is a branch of CBT, there are enough differences for it to be in its own category. This type of Psychotherapy is used for PTSD, phobias, and OCD. The goal of this therapy is to find the underlying triggers that result in certain actions or behaviours. Next, better techniques are introduced to replace the current actions or behaviours that aren’t giving a positive outcome.
The therapist also introduces coping mechanisms to address those triggers head-on. When they no longer hold the power over the person, the triggers are reduced. The goal is to reduce or eliminate the triggers so that they no longer cause the negative actions or behaviours. While a person can’t always be in an environment they control, learning methods to cope when certain scenarios arise is important. By desensitising the person to the triggers, they are less likely to have anxiety over them.
The relationships we form with others are important. This type of therapy helps ensure they are positive and healthy. A person with terrible relationships in the past may continue that cycle if they don’t have the right tools to break it. Some people aren’t social by nature, and they have to learn better ways to communicate effectively. It can also be a useful method of Psychotherapy for different types of depression.
Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT)
This type of therapy is important for those that don’t have any self-esteem. It helps them visualise who they wish to be and the life they want to be involved in. With the help of a therapist, inner thoughts and feelings are explored. What created them? Are they true? If not, what can be implemented to change them? So much of what we think and believe is due to perception. When you analyse it, things look very different!
MBT is a good choice for those suffering from long-term physical and/or mental abuse. They are so broken down from the words and actions of others that they have no idea who they are. Children from abusive or neglectful homes often don’t know their own worth and this type of Psychotherapy can help them find a voice.
This helps them create a positive self-image and establish boundaries with others. It also helps a person stand on their own two feet. They may be too attached to others, only feeling worthy when someone else sees them as valuable. MBT doesn’t have much structure to it but it can be part of a long-term solution for someone to decide what they believe and feel strong enough to voice their opinions and thoughts.
Not everyone is a believer in pet therapy, but for many people, it helps them connect with something. The time they spend with a beloved pet can reduce stress and anxiety for them. It can reduce symptoms of depression. There are programs to aid veterans, victims of violence, children with mental health conditions to benefit from pet therapy. It is important to understand this is not the same as a service dog/animal.
When a person is aware of negative thoughts and patterns with their behaviours, they can change them. With therapy, they can identify why they felt that way to start with. They can reflect on those experiences but also see better options for the future. In this type of therapy, a person can say what is on their mind without the fear of being judged.
The therapist asks open-ended questions to help the patient dig deep into their thoughts. Often, the negative behaviours are linked to subconscious beliefs. The person has been adversely affected by what took place earlier in their life. Addressing those topics can promote healing as well as better patterns of behaviour.