What is Therapy?

The definition of mental health therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.

What is the purpose of Therapy?

The primary purpose of therapy is to help treat personal challenges and learn how to best live with or overcome illnesses and disorders that may affect a person’s daily life.

Before a person requests therapy, they should ask themselves what they want to get out of it, or what is the main purpose of seeking help.  As with most focused conversations, whether it is personal or business related, it is important to understand the goals and objectives before meeting.  This not only gives the therapists direction, it also makes the best use of time for the patient.  If a person doesn’t feel they can come up with a goal or objective to their therapy sessions, a well-trained therapist should be able to help a patient come up with a plan.

Who can benefit from Therapy?

At some point in life, everyone can benefit from therapy.  There aren’t many people that go through life without at least a few tough times that challenge a person’s psyche.  Meeting with a trained professional that has no personal bias versus friends and family can be beneficial because they only have your best interest in mind.  Below is a list of common reasons to seek therapy.

  • Trouble managing stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Health Issues
  • Spiritual Issues
  • Phobias
  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Family Issues
  • Relationship Issues
  • Substance Abuse Problems

Types of Therapy

Therapy can come in all shapes and forms.  There is no cure-all for mental illnesses and disorders, but with the many types of therapy out there, there is a unique approach to every illness and disorder that can help.   Below are some of the common types of therapy that can help treat many different mental illnesses and disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a form of therapy that combines principals of both cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.  CBT was first designed to treat depression, but as the success of the therapy has gained recognition, it has also been used to treat mental health problems such as anxiety.  CBT is problem focused in that it addresses specific issues and it determines a set of actions to counter the harmful behaviors.  It is different from traditional therapy, which tries to uncover unconscious feelings and emotions.  CBT says that thoughts and behaviors are more related to fear and avoidance.   CBT has six phases; assessment, reconceptualization, skill acquisition, skill consolidation and application training, generalization and maintenance, and post treatment assessment follow up.

Individual Therapy – Individual therapy, often called counseling or psychotherapy, is a type of therapy that includes one patient and a licensed therapist.  Individual therapy usually takes place in the private office of a trained therapist, but can also take place in a hospital, mental health facility, school, over the phone, and even chat or video conferencing in some cases with the advancement of technology.  It is important that the patient feel safe, secure, and know what they say in their therapy session is confidential.  This allows the patient to freely provide information with no judgment or negative consequences.

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 anger management, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  Group therapy can take place in a professional office setting, places of worship, peoples’ homes, and even public places such as a coffee shop.

Family Therapy – Family therapy can be helpful for many families because a patients’ family members are often times the people who can help aid the patient back to recovery.  Family members can also be a contributing factor to mental illnesses, and having an unbiased 3rd party as a moderator can be helpful in easing tensions.  Family therapy can be helpful in any situation that causes conflict, stress, anger, or grief.

Marital/Couples Therapy – Couples therapy is typically more focused on the current day-to-day problems that cause stress and is designed to focus on managing feelings and situations.  An effective marital and couples therapist can help a couple in how they view their relationship, modify dysfunctional behaviors, decrease emotional avoidance, improve communication, and focus on both problems and strengths of the relationship.

Recreational Therapy – Recreational Therapy is a form of therapy that introduces activity-based recreation to rehabilitate a person’s independence in life along with their personal health and wellness.  The premise to recreational therapy is that people are healthier and happier when they lead an active lifestyle.  By incorporating recreation and activity into a treatment plan, the goal is to create a lifestyle where the patient continues to incorporate activities and recreation into their daily routines.  Patients that may benefit from recreational therapy include people suffering from mental health illnesses, people with developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and pediatrics. Recreational therapy is different from other forms of therapy in that it not only focuses on eliminating an illness, but also promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) – Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be an effective treatment for patients that are severely depressed, suicidal, or have bipolar disorder with depression or mania. Montevista Hospital offers ECT for patients who are unsuccessful to other forms of treatment, pose an immediate danger to themselves and others and are not good candidates for antidepressants or mood stabilizer medication. ECT is performed under general anesthesia by an anesthesiologist and a psychiatrist. Each patient receives a series of 8-12 treatments. Treatments typically occur three times per week and then taper to monthly based on the individual needs of the patient.The decision to use ECT as a treatment option is one that typically comes after much discussion and exploration of other therapies. Two psychiatrists must render separate opinions that the patient would benefit from the treatment.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

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

One thing to understand is that each person goes through therapy in different ways and different illnesses and disorders require different levels of therapy.

Is therapy the best solution for help?

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