Psychotherapy can take on different formats depending on the approach of the therapist and the needs of the patient. The goal is for a trained psychotherapist to help their client tackle specific or general problems such as a particular mental illness or a source of life stress.
While a wide range of techniques and strategies can be used, almost all types of psychotherapy involve developing a therapeutic relationship, communicating and creating a dialogue, and working to overcome problematic thoughts or behaviors. Learn more about the options that are available.
A psychotherapist focuses on gaining insight into a person's thought processes, and how these may be influenced by past events such that they cause problems in the present. A psychotherapist will work with the client to address the root cause and core issues of current problems so that lasting change and personal growth may occur.
While therapy can be used to find solutions across various fields (including physical health, mental health, marriage and family issues), psychotherapy focuses on the management of mental health or emotional issues.
Different approaches of psychotherapy may be used depending on the condition being treated, as well as the expertise of the mental health professional. The American Psychological Association classifies these approaches into five broad categories: psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic therapy, and integrative therapy.
Behavioral therapy is rooted in the principles of behaviorism, a school of thought focused on the idea that we learn from our environment. Unlike the types of therapy that are rooted in insight (such as psychoanalytic therapy), behavioral therapy is action-based where its goal is to teach people new behaviors to minimize or eliminate the issue.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that relies on behavioral techniques, but adds a cognitive element, focusing on the problematic thoughts behind behaviors.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a modified type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.
A treatment plan refers to the specific goals you have for therapy and interventions your therapist might use to help you reach these goals. Typically, a treatment plan is created early on in the therapeutic process, and it serves as a guideline to drive your sessions in a way that fits with what you hope to achieve.
Counseling is generally used to denote a relatively brief treatment that is focused primarily on behavior. It often targets a particular symptom or problematic situation and offers suggestions and advice for dealing with it.
Psychotherapy on the other hand is generally a longer-term treatment that focuses more on gaining insight into chronic physical and emotional problems and thought processes.
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