How it works
With several treatment types on offer, they all involve a certain amount of interaction between you and another person, whether that’s a therapist or within a group. Very often psychotherapy will come recommended from your GP, so they should be able to point you in the right direction of a qualified therapist, but because you could end up revealing all sorts of personal information, make sure you’re happy with the therapist – don’t be afraid to shop around until you find someone you’re totally at ease with.
Psychotherapy usually involves regular sessions at the same time, same place each week or month depending on the course of therapy you’ve chosen. Within a month or so, it will then be decided between you and your therapist how long your treatment should be continued for. Individual sessions generally last between 50 minutes and an hour and will be carried out in a quiet room but don’t expect to be greeted with a chaise longue and a dark, dreary space –they’re ''so'' last century.
Often, people will use a combination of therapies to deal with their individual needs, but the onus will be on you as an individual to make them work, but sometimes it’s just the fact of discovering you’re not alone in your situation that will make you feel 100 times better.
Probably one of the most recognised forms of psychotherapy, anyone opting for this type of therapy should expect some sort of regression into their past. Focusing on the feelings we have about other people, in particular those that are closest to us, the therapist will examine how past experiences may be affecting your present situation. Psychoanalysts believe that only when you come to terms with occurrences from yesteryear will you be able to move forward and draw a line under issues you might be struggling to deal with. Despite the therapy being criticised by some for being too time-consuming, the therapist offers a nonjudgmental environment where you can feel safe revealing things you’ve kept bottled up for years. It’s this acceptance that claims to help free you of emotional chains that have kept you tied to the past.
Usually prescribed for people who want or need to change specific patterns of behaviour, therapists try to relieve you of any anxieties, phobias, panics or obsessive-compulsive tendencies you might have. As well as learning about you as an individual, reward schemes and homework initiatives might be introduced to encourage you to alter your thinking and behavioural patterns. You might even be expected to spend time in the situations you fear most, as some therapists will try to help you reduce your anxiety levels by taking you out of your comfort zone. Reports show that the results from this sort of therapy are both quick and effective.
Similar to behavioural therapy, this aims at changing thinking patterns but by using the present and future as a means to an end. Therapists also tend to try and focus on specific problems and the therapy is highly regarded in the treatment of certain types of depression. By helping you to recognise your own negative thought patterns, you’ll be encouraged to replace them with positive ones and it’s via this process that anxiety and depression can be relieved.
Family, Marital and Couples Therapy
It’s not uncommon that at the root of all problems is another family member or loved one. Family and Marital Therapy includes both individual and group sessions with the problem party so everyone can gain an understanding as to why their behaviour is so significant. This all helps with identifying the dynamic of the relationship and encourages each individual to seek out how they can make things better.
Often referred to as support groups, members are encouraged to learn from the experiences of each other. Common for those suffering with mental illness, problematic behaviour or addictive personalities, the group environment gives each individual the opportunity to offer up their own advice. Overseen by a qualified therapist, groups of two or more meet on a weekly basis to voice their problems.
Gestalt therapy encourages you to expose your hidden feelings by concentrating on the ‘here and now’. Using creative experiments such as moving, drawing or the open chair technique (where you place the person who has caused you pain or trouble in an empty chair), the therapist will sometimes get you to re-enact certain situations so they can examine how the thoughts, feelings and body sensations you’re experiencing could create opportunities to change and resolve your behaviour and attitude. Although normally carried out on a one-to-one basis, it’s not unheard of for Gestalt to be used in couples, families or even group therapy.
A short term therapy often used to treat those with depression; interpersonal therapy (IPT) looks at social relationships and how they could be improved. By helping you learn how to deal with conflict or emotional distress, it’s based on the idea that depression is often linked to things that happen in your private or working life. Therefore if you can relate better to situations and people, you should effectively become less depressed. A brief form of therapy, this can be used as an alternative or alongside other forms of medication.
As the name suggests, this involves more than just sitting in a chair facing your therapist. Through movement, dance, drama, art, music and writing this is advised for people who struggle to express their feelings. It still has the same outcome, but the belief is that through more creative methods, the therapist is exposed to the imagination of the individual which allows them to examine the feelings and emotions of the clients thought process.
Some people believe that the way we act is affected by the world and the situations we’re placed in, others believe that we’re driven by our subconscious mind and it’s the latter that hypno-psychotherapy deals with. Hypnosis deeply relaxes you and so reduces any tension and stress you might be feeling. When you’re in this state, the mind is more open to the process of change, and so the therapist can work to enhance your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Is it for me?
A problem shared is a problem halved so if you feel like life is getting on top of you, psychotherapy might be able to help you overcome those negative feelings and promote a change in your overall outlook. By talking things over with an impartial therapist, the above therapies have all been recommended for treating those who are lacking in confidence, have relationship difficulties, are suffering with a physical illness or dealing with bereavement, loneliness, depression, stress or anxiety. So if you’re looking to bin the baggage, some character cross-examination might be just what you need to uncover a new and improved you.