Types of therapy for mental Illness
Different approaches to therapy include:
Psychodynamic therapy is based on the assumption that a person is having emotional problems because of unresolved, generally unconscious conflicts, often stemming from childhood. The goal of this type of therapy is for the patient to understand and cope better with these feelings by talking about the experiences. Psychodynamic therapy is administered over a period of at least several months, although it can last longer, even years.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the behaviors and interactions a patient has with family and friends. The primary goal of this therapy is to improve communication skills and increase self-esteem during a short period of time. It usually lasts three to four months and works well for depression caused by mourning, relationship conflicts, major life events, and social isolation.
Psychodynamic and interpersonal therapies help patients resolve mental illness caused by:
- Relationship conflicts
- Role transitions (such as becoming a mother, or a caregiver)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people with mental illness to identify and change inaccurate perceptions that they may have of themselves and the world around them. The therapist helps the patient establish new ways of thinking by directing attention to both the "wrong" and "right" assumptions they make about themselves and others.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is recommended for patients:
- Who think and behave in ways that trigger and perpetuate mental illness
- Who suffer from depression and/or anxiety disorders as the only treatment or, depending on the severity, in addition to treatment with antidepressant medication
- Of all ages who have mental illness that causes suffering, disability, or interpersonal problems
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy used for high-risk, tough-to-treat patients. The term "dialectical" comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy - acceptance and change - brings better results than either one alone. DBT helps a person change unhealthy behaviors such as lying and self-injury through keeping daily diaries, individual and group therapy and phone coaching.
DBT was initially designed to treat people with suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder. But it has been adapted for other mental health problems that threaten a person's safety, relationships, work, and emotional well-being.
Comprehensive DBT focuses on four ways to enhance life skills:
- Distress tolerance: Feeling intense emotions like anger without reacting impulsively or using self-injury or substance abuse to dampen distress.
- Emotion regulation: Recognizing, labeling, and adjusting emotions.
- Mindfulness: Becoming more aware of self and others and attentive to the present moment.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Navigating conflict and interacting assertively.
Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled appointments. The effectiveness of therapy depends on your active participation. It requires time, effort, and regularity.
As you begin therapy, establish some goals with your therapist. Then spend time periodically reviewing your progress with your therapist. If you don't like the therapist's approach or if you don't think the therapist is helping you, talk to him or her about it and seek a second opinion if both agree, but don't discontinue therapy abruptly.
Tips for Starting Therapy
Here are some tips to use when starting therapy for the first time:
- Identify sources of stress: Try keeping a journal and note stressful as well as positive events.
- Restructure priorities: Emphasize positive, effective behavior.
- Make time for recreational and pleasurable activities.
- Communicate: Explain and assert your needs to someone you trust; write in a journal to express your feelings.
Remember, therapy involves evaluating your thoughts and behaviors, identifying stresses that contribute to your condition, and working to modify both. People who actively participate in therapy recover more quickly and have fewer relapses.
Also, keep in mind, therapy is treatment that addresses specific causes of mental illness; it is not a "quick fix." It takes longer to begin to work than medication, but there is evidence to suggest that its effects last longer. Medication may be needed immediately in cases of severe mental illness, but the combination of therapy and medicine is very effective.