Understanding the Basics of Therapy and How to Decide if it is Right For You.
December 2, 2022
What is Therapy?
What is therapy? Can it really help me? Where do I start? Many people have these questions and more when considering therapy. Starting something new can be anxiety-provoking and if anxiety is what you are seeking therapy for, it can feel like an impossible place to start.
Therapy can have significant benefits and helps many people around the world develop the coping mechanisms and skills they need to be successful and live healthy lives. We wanted to address some of these common questions and help you decide if therapy is right for you, what kind of therapy you might like to try, and how to get started.
Therapy sometimes referred to as psychotherapy or counseling, is simply the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, or troubles with relationships. People can seek help for a wide variety of problems and therapy is really for anyone. People use therapeutic intervention to help with issues such as mental illness, addiction, and confidence problems, to gain insight and self-awareness, and so much more.A therapist can provide understanding and help figure out treatment approaches for changing on-going unwanted behaviors.
Is therapy a good fit for you? If you are very resistant to the idea, it is unlikely you will open up enough to truly make any progress. However, if you are dealing with problems or behavior that are significantly affecting your quality of life or are consuming too much of your time (over an hour a day) these would be good indicators that therapy might be worth trying.
What type of therapist should I see?
There are a lot of different licenses that therapists can hold. You might see these credentials behind their names; Licensed professional counselor (LPC), Licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), Licensed master social worker (LMSW), or a Psychologist (Ph.D. or PsyD). What these credentials mean is that an individual holding any of these credentials have a master’s level certification in their specified area. (All aside from Ph.D. or PsyD, these would hold a doctorate degree). Each of these degrees requires specialized education and training in their specific field, such as counseling or social work, but they all will have a very similar foundation to their education and have all completed additional training and field experience to have received their qualifications. Anybody holding these credentials would be a qualified therapist but you might want to choose one that have an educational background in an area that is most important to you.
Different types of therapy
There are many different types of therpies that are offered. The list below does not include all forms of therapy but is a good starting point to develop a general understanding of differnt therapies available.
- Psychodynamic therapy is a long-term approach to mental health treatment. This approach emphasizes changing problematic behaviors, feelings, and beliefs by discovering the unconscious or unrecognized meanings or reasons for them. This often leads to much discussion about a person’s childhood, upbringing, and life experiences to help discover why these feelings have developed.
- Behavior Therapy is a focused and action-oriented approach to mental health treatment. The purpose of this type of therapy is to help you alter your responses or reactions to certain situations and eliminate the distress caused by your reactions.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is like behavioral therapy but also works to address thoughts that can be problematic and distressing as well. Can be good for mood disorders, anxiety, phobias, substance abuse, insomnia, and other things.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy: how to teach people how to live in the moment and find healthy ways to cope. This type of therapy can be very helpful for people with Borderline Personality Disorder or any self-destructive thoughts. This therapy works to help the client be more assertive, and express needs in a healthy way.
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a specialized form of therapy that uses bilateral stimulation to help people process traumatic events or experiences. This type of therapy requires specialized training to facilitate. There are multiple phases that all aim to help you deal with trauma and create coping skills to deal with future life experiences.
Choosing the right therapist
Finding the right therapist for you can feel like an difficult task. There are many things you will want to consider when choosing a therapist. What type of therapy are you interested in? Will they accept your insurance? Is the gender of the therapist important to you? Once you have answered these basic questions, you might want to research further. It could be helpful to look up the person’s credentials and reviews online using websites like Healthgrades.com. Pay attention to things that matter to you, like the environment, office staff, wait times, etc. You want to find someone who makes you feel comfortable and gives you a sense of validation as well. You can set up an initial call/consult where you can interview the therapist and ask any questions you may have. Take this time seriously. If you don’t appreciate how the therapist is answering some of your initial questions, it is unlikely you will feel comfortable enough to open up and form the relationship you need to seek the full benefits of therapy. Just remember it is your right to be picky and find an appropriate fit for you. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” until you find the right person for you.
Therapy can be a wonderful resource for many people struggling to overcome problems, change behaviors, or even process trauma or other significant events in life. There are many different types of therapy and therapists that create diverse opportunities for you to find the right intervention for your needs. If you are considering therapy for yourself, we encourage you to give it a try. You can search for therapists in your area by using psychologytoday.com. You can also reach out to us at Mindspring to help you take the first steps.
If you found this article helpful and want to learn more, join us for our free webinar titled "Understanding Psychotherapy: Waht to Expect & How it Works." You can see and register for upcoming webinars here. You can also sign up for our email list here to get updates of upcoming webinars.