Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Despite long term efforts of mental health professionals to educate the general population and de-stigmatize mental health counseling, many people still don't have a clear understanding of what counseling/therapy really looks like or what it can do for them.
The information below was written by the editorial staff of www.familydoctor.org in hopes of further normalizing professional counseling services. The editor does a great job of explaining mental health therapy/counseling basics, as well as, provides good information to help answer the question, "Is therapy right for me?"
What is therapy?
Therapy and counseling are types of treatment to improve your mental well-being. These treatments can help people who are experiencing emotional or behavior problems, or people who have a mental health disorder. Therapy is sometimes called psychotherapy
or talk therapy. If you are taking medication for a mental health disorder, therapy will usually improve the results you are get from the medicine.
Different types of therapy use different techniques. In most kinds of therapy and counseling, the person receiving treatment will talk with a professional therapist. However, therapy is more than just talking about your problems. Therapy can teach you new ways to think about the situations that bother you and help you cope with your feelings. It can help with feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, shyness and panic. It can also give you tools to help fight low self-esteem and depression, for example.
Is therapy or counseling right for me?
Some people may not want professional therapy or counseling because they feel ashamed of their problems. Others may believe that therapy and counseling are for seriously mentally ill or “crazy” people only. But this is not true. Don’t let shame and fear stop you from getting the help you need. Good mental health is part of your overall health and well-being.
Therapy can help treat a variety of problems.
Some common reasons people seek therapy include:
Marriage problems, infidelity, divorce or other relationship issues
Stress and anxiety
Addictions and compulsions
Grief, loss or bereavement
Parenting or family problems
Chronic pain or illness
Domestic violence or abuse
If you are not sure if therapy and counseling are right for you, talk to your family doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a trained professional who can help with your problems.
What can I expect from a counseling or therapy session?
The first time you meet with your doctor or therapist, you'll talk about any problems you've been having and how you've been feeling. You'll also talk about your goals for therapy. You and your doctor will decide how frequently you will meet. Your doctor, therapist or counselor will help you decide what's right for you.
What are some different kinds of therapy?
Different kinds of therapy and counseling are based on different ideas about how the brain works and what causes people to act in certain ways.
Here are some common types of counseling and therapy.
Family counseling helps family members understand problems within the family and how to resolve them.
Cognitive therapy is sometimes also called cognitive behavior therapy. It’s based on the idea that your thoughts cause your feelings and actions. If you change the way you think about something, you can feel or behave better even if the situation doesn’t change. This kind of therapy helps you understand negative or false thought patterns that cause troubling feelings and behavior.
Behavior therapy is sometimes called behavior modification therapy. This kind of treatment focuses on changing unwanted or unhealthy behaviors and replacing them with healthy ones. This treatment often involves using a system of rewards and reinforcement of positive behavior.
Psychoanalysis is a kind of treatment that encourages you to think and talk about memories and feelings from the past. The idea is that these memories will help you understand how you act and feel today.
Group therapy is guided by a qualified licensed therapist. This professional facilitates a small group of people who have similar issues or problems. A group situation can improve honest interaction with others. Group members can also support each other during times of crisis.
Couples therapy or marriage counseling can help couples solve problems together, communicate in healthier ways and learn to work out differences.
What are the different types of mental health professionals?
Therapists or counselors who are trained in psychotherapy include professionals from the following areas among others: psychiatry, clinical psychology, mental health counseling, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling and psychoanalysis. Your family doctor can help you choose the right professional to help you address your specific needs.
Cognitive Therapy for Depression by SJ Rupke, M.D., D Blecke, M.Div., M.S.W. and M Renfrow, M.D. (American Family Physician January 01, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060101/83.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff
Reviewed/Updated: 05/10 Created: 04/06
Misti Luke is a Oklahoma licensed therapist in private practice in beautiful Broken Bow, OK. For correspondence, email@example.com.