You’ve taken the first step and made the decision to go for therapy — congratulations! That could be the hardest step when it comes to taking care of your mental health.
If you’re wondering, “how do I figure out what kind of therapy I need?” you’re not alone.
We’ve broken down the essential information below to make this process for you as easy as possible.
What Type Of Therapy Is Best For You
There are many different types of psychotherapy out there. Understanding their differences and what particular problems they target can be helpful when you’re focusing on improving your mental health.
Here’s some basic information to so you can decide:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy focused on changing how you relate to your thoughts and how they affect your behavior. CBT is not one technique, but encompasses some widely known techniques.
Related: 12 Principles Of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Cognitive Therapy
This is often a short-term therapy, meaning you may attend 6- 16 sessions. It generally begins with a focus on what you feel are here-and-now concerns.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT aims to shift negative and problematic behaviors in an active way. Counseling is based on teaching problem solving techniques and learning acceptance strategies.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)
EMDR is designed to treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other traumas. It can be incredibly valuable and works well with other types of therapy.
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
MBCT employs mindfulness to help patients see and understand their negative thoughts, allowing them to gain some distance and alter how they react to them.
Psychoanalysis has been used for years to improve mental health, and has been updated as many times as it has been criticized. This is what most people think of when they hear the term “talk therapy.”
This approach in counseling is based on the work of Freud in the early 1900s. This type of psychotherapy is usually a long term approach. The sessions are aimed to help participants understand themselves and their relationship with others, and the world around them, often at the deepest levels of awareness.
It’s still a very common form of therapy and can be very useful for bringing unconscious problems to the surface to be dissected and resolved.
Related: How Is Behavior Therapy Different Than Psychoanalysis
- Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in psychoanalysis and is another one of the types of psychotherapy, but is a bit simpler.
With this technique, your therapist will get to know your feelings, beliefs, and life experiences in your sessions to help you recognize and change recurring patterns. This type of clinical psychology can last a few months or as long term as two years.
What Kind Of Therapy Do I Need For Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns—they affect 40 million Americans each year.
If you’re living with anxiety it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. They can include worrisome thoughts, loss of appetite, insomnia, grueling stomachaches, and lightheadedness.
When it comes to treating anxiety, studies show that two types of therapies work really well.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Many mental health professionals, including social workers, view behavioral therapy as a go-to treatment for helping people tackle their worries, fears, and phobias.
A Cognitive Behavioral therapist helps clients become aware of their irrational and self-limiting beliefs, like “If I go to the party, no one will talk to me,” and “Everyone thinks I’m too sensitive.”
The simple act of being able to identify a negative thought can help dismantle self-judgment and anxious feelings.
In these therapy sessions, the therapist teaches the client to become psychological detectives, looking for evidence that their worst fears are facts, which they’re unlikely to find.
Using this cognitive tool can help people be aware of and question irrational thoughts that arise by asking, “What proof do I have that my worry is accurate?”
Related: 31 Best Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Books
When you hear “psychoanalysis,” you might picture someone lying on a couch while their Freud look-a-like therapist nods, mutters, “uh huh,” and jots down notes.
It’s not really like that. The basis of psychoanalysis is revisiting and examining the past, especially hard-wired family dynamics.
This can often shed light on what’s hurting you in the present. Studies show that psychoanalysis can be just as effective as its behavioral counterparts.
The right therapist will want to help their clients get at the root of what’s causing them anxiety. A psychoanalytic therapist views symptoms as clues that can uncover insight and invoke healing.
From this perspective, anxiety is a symptom to be understood, not pushed away.
Related: Average Number Of Therapy Sessions – A Complete Guide
What Do You Need To Be Good At To Be A Therapist
Clinical knowledge is certainly an important requirement for becoming a mental health professional, however, that alone does not necessarily make for a great therapist. It takes a little more.
Your natural ability to connect with people just can’t be taught. It means being genuine and authentic and not feeling forced or mechanical. Others can sense when you’re not being authentic.
These are some important skills to have to be a great therapist.
Empathy is your ability to understand and identify with another person’s experiences, even if they have trouble describing their problems and how they feel to you as their therapist. You will want to support your client to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings.
Good mental health professionals can understand a wide variety of peoples’ beliefs and feelings, even if they don’t agree with them. Being emotionally attuned to your clients’ needs, will help them better identify and articulate their feelings.
- Attentive Listening Skills
All forms of therapy require you to actively listen to your client, reflect their thoughts back to them, and be able to remember important events and feelings they want to convey to you.
Sometimes paying attention to what someone is not saying, and exploring what that communicates is even more vital. For example, a survivor of sexual assault who never talks about the traumatizing experience might be telling you something through silence.
- Social and Communication Skills
Good social skills can carry you through the first few treatment sessions. If a client might be uncomfortable because he or she doesn’t know you well, acknowledge the anxiety. This can also help you when communicating over the phone or via email.
A good communicator, can convey confidence and assertiveness. This creates a more positive therapeutic relationship.
Having a strong network of colleagues with whom you like to communicate with can also help you give those individuals the best referrals possible.
Related: How Long Does Psychoanalysis Typically Take?
- Boundary Setting
Ethical therapy requires counselors and therapists to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with the people they help in treatment.
One aspect of protecting the welfare of the people you like to work with in therapy is to avoid dual relationships, particularly relationships that are romantic or sexual in nature.
You must be able to clearly communicate to clients the nature and limits of the therapeutic relationship.
It’s important to be conscientious of your boundaries as a therapist, even if you may have struggled with setting boundaries in your personal life or have codependent tendencies.
- Critical Thinking
Strong critical thinking skills are required when making diagnoses and developing treatment plans.
The first treatment approach doesn’t always work, so you’ll need to have back-up plans and the ability to question what is working and what’s not. Alongside these critical thinking skills, keep up to date on research trends.
Make sure you know enough about medication to be able to talk to people about any medications the person may be taking, and remain mindful of alternative treatments such as exercise, herbal therapies, or nutritional changes.
You’re much more likely to be effective by helping people try several different proven strategies.
Be bold and go deeper to follow the emotion or you could miss out on an important behavioral explanation. Someone who insists that his or her spouse is intolerable might, for example, be verbally abusing that partner.
Ask the tough questions and search for what’s below the surface so you can guide people away from unwise decisions.
- Business Management
For many people who thrive by helping others, the business world of money, advertising, and taxes can seem unimportant. However, if you plan to become a private practice therapist, it’s important to be able to manage a business.
This will include keeping track of your finances, client records, and taxes, as well as managing your time so that you can make enough money. You might also have to become adept at advertising your services via blogs, online profiles, print, and word of mouth.
Otherwise, you may be able to hire an office manager to assist you. Or enroll in training opportunities for therapists who wish to learn more about managing a business.
Always give your clients good value. A great way to do that is to give more than expected. This is what will give you repeat clients and great referrals.
Related: Therapeutic Process & Therapeutic Steps – Easy Explained
What Type Of Therapy Is Best For Me
Thank goodness there’s an abundance of support and guidance available.
Most therapists will not limit themselves to only one technique. They may combine several or alter them slightly for each patient.
Read on for a comprehensive list of issues where the types of therapy excel.
- CBT could be right if: you are dealing with an anxiety disorder, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, or depression. Other behavior-based therapies can be useful for phobias, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- DBT could be right if: other types of therapy haven’t worked for you. DBT is often used to treat types of problems such as self-harm, eating disorders, destructive thought patterns, borderline personality disorder, and more.
- EMDR might be right if: you’ve experienced trauma or deeply stressful events that are causing extreme anxiety.
- MBCT could be right if: you suffer from recurrent depression, but MBCT can also be useful for many mental health issues.
- Psychoanalysis could be right if: you have anxiety or self-esteem issues you want to explore further.
- Psychodynamic Therapy could be right if: you’re generally alright, but are struggling with your past and how it may be affecting your future. Psychodynamic therapy can be used to treat any number of issues, and may be woven into other techniques.
These are also some different types of counseling arrangements based on the problem and what the person may want.
- Individual: This is the most common type of therapy. All therapy appointments will be one-on-one unless otherwise stated.
- Family: Family therapy can be valuable for all familial relationships, whether between siblings, parents and children, or other family members. You may see these practitioners referred to as marriage and family therapists.
- Couples: Couples Therapy can be stigmatized as a sign that your relationship is falling apart, but it’s actually an incredible tool for developing a deeper bond or preparing for changes ahead.
Many couples find value in this type of therapy when shifting responsibilities, like a change in the breadwinner or becoming parents.
- Group: Most group therapy deals with some form of substance abuse or addiction, however, group therapy can also be very useful for trauma, grief, and victims of physical abuse.
- Therapy for certain life events: Some therapists specialize in very specific life moments including but not limited to medical issues, childbirth, divorce, death, impotence, infertility, and others.
- Online vs in-person: It’s becoming more and more common for a therapist to offer remote services via phone or video chat.
If special situations prevent you from seeing a therapist in their office, this could be time saving and a great choice.
When you become aware that anxiety, depression, or any other problems are affecting your well being, find a way to get the treatment and counseling to improve the problem.
Find the right therapist you like who will keep your rights reserved. A great therapist will want to work together with you to improve your mental health problem.
When you need help, find the right therapies from this list so you can feel better about your future. It’s time to get your life back on track.
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