What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy”, helps people with a broad range of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. By talking openly with a trained professional, individuals can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so they can function better and increase their overall well-being.
Problems that may be helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life, the impact of trauma, medical illness, or loss, as well as specific mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
Types of Psychotherapy
There are several types of psychotherapy, each with their own benefits. Different types may work better for certain problems or issues. The choice of psychotherapy chosen depends on the patient’s particular illness and circumstances, as well as their preference.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This type of psychotherapy helps people to identify and change patterns of thinking and behaviour that are harmful or ineffective and replace them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviour. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps a person focus on current problems and how to solve them. During the course of treatment, patients may be given “homework” that requires them to practice their new skills in the real world.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be helpful in treating a variety of disorders including depression, anxiety, trauma related disorders, and eating disorders.
Interpersonal Therapy tends to be a short-term form of treatment, and helps patients understand underlying interpersonal issues such as changes in social or work roles, unresolved grief, conflicts with significant others, and any other problem relating to others. This type of therapy helps people learn healthy ways to express emotions and learn how to improve communication and the way they relate to others.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
This is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that helps patients regulate their emotions. It is often used to treat people with chronic suicidal thoughts and with borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and PTSD. Through dialectical behaviour therapy, patients will learn new skills that will help them take responsibility to change unhealthy behaviours.
Depending on your situation, your therapist may choose to use a combination of different types of therapy. Work with your therapist to determine which approach is best for you.
How Does Psychotherapy Help?
Psychotherapy helps you to understand the behaviours, emotions, and ideas that contribute to your illness and how to change them. Psychotherapy can help you to:
- Understand your illness
- Define and reach specific wellness goals
- Overcome fears or insecurities
- Make sense of past traumatic experiences
- Cope with stress
- Identify triggers that may worsen your symptoms
In psychotherapy, you will not just “talk about your problems, but will work with your therapist towards solutions. Your therapist will help you understand the behaviours, emotions, and ideas that contribute to your illness and learn how to change them. Some sessions may involve homework, like tracking moods, writing about your thoughts, or deliberately exposing yourself to situations that may have caused anxiety in the past.
It is very important that you talk openly with your therapist, so they can know how to help you best. Do not feel embarrassed about any feelings or concerns you may have. Your therapist wants to help you and wants you to succeed, so work with them to set clear goals, and make sure you agree on the major issues and how to tackle them. Approach psychotherapy as a partnership, as it is most effective when you are an active participant and share in the decision-making process.
Over time, your therapist will help you learn the skills you need to regain a sense of control and pleasure in your life. You will learn healthy coping mechanisms and gain problem-solving skills. Your therapist will encourage you to look at things differently and learn new ways to react to events and people.
At the beginning of your treatment, you might see your therapist more often, in order to establish a treatment plan, set goals, and get started on achieving those goals. Later, you might go to psychotherapy appointments less often, as you are learning to manage your problems and avoid triggers.