What is Therapy?

The definition of therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.   Therapy helps to develop strategies and ways to deal with feelings and emotions that are sometimes out of a person’s control.

What is the purpose of Therapy?

The main 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.  There are many mental health illnesses that people can overcome through therapy, but it is important to seek out help from a professional.

Before a person seeks out therapy, they should consider what they want to get out of therapy.  As with most focused conversations, whether it be personal or business related, it is important to understand your goals and objectives before meeting.  This not only gives the therapists direction, it also makes the best use of time for the patient.  After the first or second meeting, most therapists will help the patient set personal goals and give the patient specific tasks to accomplish.

Benefits of Therapy

Throughout life, the majority of people experience a number of situations and events in which they have a hard time managing their feelings.  There aren’t many people that go through life without at least a few hard times that challenge a person’s psyche.  Below is a list of common reasons to seek therapy.

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

Types of Therapy

Therapy can come in a number of different variations.  There is no one pill or one type of therapy for all mental illnesses and disorders, which leads to different ways to treat the many types of disorders.   Below are some of the common types of therapy that help treat the different mental illnesses and disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT has two main elements, cognitive and behavioral.  The cognitive side works to develop positive beliefs of a person’s life.  The behavioral side works to discontinue previous detrimental behaviors and turn them into positive behaviors.  CBT is used for a number of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – DBT is a cognitive based form of therapy that involves both individual therapy and group therapy.   DBT helps identify the assumptions, beliefs, and thoughts that attribute to negative emotions and feelings about ones self.  One of the distinct characteristics of DBT is that patients work with their therapists to role play real life situations and to learn how to best react particular scenarios.  Through DBT, patients are given homework in between sessions where they are encouraged to work on overcoming their personal challenges.  This is a very proactive style of therapy that can work with mental illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, PTSD, and eating disorders.  The four modules to DBT include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation.

Individual Therapy – Individual therapy, often called counseling or psychotherapy, is a type of therapy that involves a patient and a licensed or trained therapist.  Individual therapy generally takes place in the private office of a trained therapist, but it can also take place in a hospital, mental health facility, place of work, school, over the phone, and even chat or video conferencing in some cases with the advancement of technology.  In therapy, it is important that the patient feel safe, secure, and know what they say is confidential.  Without truly letting one’s guard down, most therapists will have trouble getting to the root of the cause.

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 eating disorders, anger management, and substance abuse.  Group therapy can take place in professional settings, places of worship, peoples’ homes, and even public places.

Family Therapy – Family therapy can be helpful for many families because a patients’ family members are often times the people who can and will help aid the person back to recovery.  Family therapy can be helpful in any situation that causes stress, anger, conflict, or grief.

Marital/Couples Therapy – Couples therapy is typically more focused on the current day to day problems and is designed to focus on managing situations and feelings.  Effective marital and couples therapists can help in how the relationship between two people is viewed, modifying dysfunctional behaviors, decreasing emotional avoidance, improving communication, and focusing on both problems and strengths of the relationship.

Recreational Therapy – Recreational Therapy is a type of therapy that uses recreation and activity based endeavors 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 set up a lifestyle where the patient continues to incorporate activities into their life.  Patients that may benefit from recreational therapy include geriatrics, people suffering from mental health illnesses, people with developmental disabilities, and pediatrics. Recreational therapy differs from other forms of therapy by not only focusing on eliminating an illness, but also promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

Evolution of Therapy

Different types of therapies are also emerging and evolving.  One of the more popular therapies among patients these days is animal assisted therapy.   Today, you will often see companion animals such as dogs and cats in hospitals, nursing homes, and psychiatric wards.  There has been no major study on this type of therapy as of today, but the people who are involved with this type of therapy feel they see a benefit.

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

Is therapy the best solution for help?

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