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Psychotherapy is a method of talking with a psychotherapist or professional counselor. Many forms of psychotherapy can help individuals experiencing difficulties, those who wish to make some kind of change in their personal or professional lives, or people who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other serious mental health problems. Research has indicated that many types of psychotherapy are very effective in treating psychological distress when used alone or, in some cases, in combination with medication. Therapy can be held in one-on-one sessions, family or couple sessions, or in a group led by a trained mental health professional. Much psychotherapy is not limited to a particular type or technique. Many therapists are trained in several different approaches. They then combine techniques from these various approaches that fit their own style and personality and the needs of the patient.
When medically necessary and desired, medication may be combined with psychotherapy, and for some people this is the best approach to treatment. People with moderate-to-severe depression typically do best with a combination of antidepressants and some form of psychotherapy.
The following are some common types of therapy:
Behavior therapy, also known as behavior modification or behaviorism, focuses on setting up rewards and punishments to change thinking patterns and shape behavior. Behavioral therapy can involve relaxation training, stress management, biofeedback, and desensitization of phobias. Behavioral therapists help patients learn how to obtain more satisfaction and rewards through their own actions and how to unlearn the negative behavioral patterns. It is often combined with cognitive therapy, known as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Cognitive therapy seeks to identify and correct thinking patterns that can lead to troublesome feelings and behaviors. Beliefs and expectations are explored to identify how they shape a person's experiences. If a thought or belief is too rigid and causes problems, the therapist helps the client to modify his or her belief so that it is less extreme.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps a person recognize his or her own negative thought patterns and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most popular and commonly used therapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. A major aim of CBT is to reduce anxiety and depression by eliminating beliefs or behaviors that help to maintain problematic emotions.
CBT may be conducted individually or in a group. There is evidence that the beneficial effects of CBT last longer than those of medication for people with panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and social phobia.
Interpersonal psychotherapy therapy focuses on an individual's social relationships and helps improve social functioning. Interpersonal therapy seeks to develop a person's relationship skills, enhances effective communication, improves appropriate expression of emotion and helps the individual become appropriately assertive in social and work situations. For example, in depression, Interpersonal therapy helps patients learn how to deal more effectively with others to reduce conflict and gain support from family and friends. It is usually conducted, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, on an individual basis, but can also be used in a group therapy setting.
This type of treatment helps a person look inside himself or herself to discover and understand current and past emotional conflicts that may be contributing to current emotional problems. The therapist helps the client to "uncover" unconscious repressed emotions and conflicts, unresolved problems from childhood, and early patterns of behavior. Gaining such insight helps to resolve issues and become aware of how these motivations and conflicts influence present actions and feelings resulting in an improvement in one’s present life. This treatment also helps the individual become aware of maladaptive patterns of reactions and responses known as defense mechanisms. Understanding one’s defense mechanisms can help the individual eliminate dysfunctional defenses and substitute more positive and constructive ways of functioning.
Gestalt therapy emphasizes what is happening in the present to help individuals become more self-aware and learn responsibility for thoughts, feelings, and actions. A goal of Gestalt therapy is to develop more internal versus external support. Techniques include confrontation, role-playing, the empty-chair exercise, and other means to create dialogue between two parts of a personality.
What is play therapy? How can it help my child? Play therapy is a means by which some therapists help young children to express and address emotional issues. Since young children behave and think differently from adults, therapy must be approached with these differences in mind. Play therapy uses the "language" of young children's play to assist them in communicating thoughts and feelings. Typical tools of the child therapist may include board games, puppets, art materials, clay and miniature people or animal figures. As the child and therapist work with these materials, an understanding of the child's emotional needs develops. Play therapy can help relieve a child's anxieties, tantrums or conflicted feelings; it may also address possible impediments to the child's continuing development so that prospects for the child's future growth may be enhanced.
Hypnosis is a state of heightened concentration and relaxation. Hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions have played a major role in healing for thousands of years. According to the World Health Organization, 90% of the general population can be hypnotized. Hypnosis is a perfectly normal state that just about everyone has experienced. What we call "highway hypnosis" is a natural hypnotic state. You drive somewhere and don't remember driving or even remember seeing the usual landmarks. You are on automatic pilot. The natural hypnotic state also exists when you become so involved in a book, TV show or some other activity that everything else is blocked out. Someone can talk to you and you don't even see or hear them. Whenever you concentrate that strongly, you automatically slip into the natural hypnotic state.
The hypnotic state, by itself, is only useful for the relaxation it produces. The real importance of hypnosis to the healing and emotional change process is that while you are in the hypnotic state, your mind is open and receptive to suggestions. Positive and healing suggestions are able to sink deeply into your mind much more quickly and strongly than when you are in a normal, awake state of mind. Research has demonstrated that while in the hypnotic state, you cannot be made to do anything against your moral values. Hypnosis is relatively safe, benign and enjoyable.
The hypnotic induction is simply a way to focus your attention and concentration so you will go into that natural, normal hypnotic state. Once in the state of hypnosis, suggestions to help you can be given. The list of ways hypnosis has been used to help children, adolescents and adults is practically endless, and includes: weight loss, smoking cessation, self-confidence building, self-esteem enhancement, improved academic performance, improved test taking ability, pain management, elimination of anxiety, fear and phobias, stress management, and sleep difficulties. Hypnotherapy is often used in conjunction with other types of psychotherapy.
Phototherapy (Light Therapy)
Individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression related to the change of the seasons within their geographic location, may benefit from bright light phototherapy. Special light bulbs made for the purpose of light therapy are much brighter than ordinary light bulbs. A therapist instructs the patient in how to use these high-intensity lights to improve the symptoms of seasonal depression and monitors improvement during therapy. Phototherapy is often used in conjunction with psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication therapy.
If you want more information about types of therapy and types of therapists, want to discuss your particular needs, or want to schedule an appointment, call our offices today.
We can help suggest the family therapist that best meets your needs.
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