There are many types of therapy available to help cope with trauma, stress, and anxiety experienced throughout life. The type you need will depend on the issues you are experiencing. But finding the right type can be a daunting experience. In addition, you want to find the right therapist and have them thoroughly understand your issues and how to handle them. Occasionally they will give you projects to work on to further enhance the skills you have learned in therapy. Someone will typically seek out therapy when the ability to function at school, work and home seem nearly impossible. None of these therapies involve medications, (these are all talk therapies), but many can be used in conjunction with a medication of some type.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most popular and effective types of therapy. It is evidence-based and helps to improve the ability to function and reduce stress. The premise for CBT is to examine how you think, act and feel. This can include how you feel both physically and mentally about a variety of topics. CBT can be used with all ages from as young as four-years-old all the way through adulthood. This can be delivered in a one-on-one setting or group format. CBT can take multiple sessions depending on the nature and severity of the problem and does not offer a quick fix, but a lifelong change in how problems are approached. The end result is to help the person be more aware of how they think, feel and act in a variety of situations and to alter those patterns as necessary. CBT is quite effective for an array of issues including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, chronic pain, obsessive compulsive issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger issues, and even substance abuse problems.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy or IPT is a therapy that deals directly with life transitions, relationships and how to improve personal communication. IPT helps the participant to understand the connection between events and their emotions and feelings. IPT is also evidence based and can be delivered in a group or individual format. IPT is a short term therapy technique that can be used to deal with specific issues like job change stress, getting married/divorced and personal conflicts. IPT is typically used effectively to treat depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and problems with substance use.
Group and family therapy
Group therapy involves a small group of patients, typically with the same issue, that meet regularly with a therapist. There are a variety of group therapy formats, including one where members discuss their ongoing struggles or one where members do very little talking and us the practices discussed by the moderator or therapist. Family therapy is a form of group therapy where instead of a group of strangers meeting to discuss issues they are dealing with, family members are meeting with the moderator or therapist to discuss issues within the family. Many group sessions offer a judgment-free zone. Some members do not participate but simply listen to others’ stories and apply lessons learned from those people to their own lives. This type of therapy can be effective within a few sessions or require many sessions, depending on the nature and severity of the problem, in addition to how much work you want to put into changing thoughts and behaviors. This type of therapy is effective for depression, anxiety, many chronic health issues like cancer, eating disorders, anger issues, and substance use.
Psychodynamic therapy helps the patient understand how early experiences have impacted their overall development and how to change those impacts. This can include bringing unconscious motivations to the consciousness level for better implementation and understanding. Many of the techniques are built upon Sigmund Freud’s original research and teachings and can include free association, transference, dream interpretation, and hypnosis, though his original ideas and techniques have largely been adapted and updated through more than a century of research and clinical practice. Various techniques that fall under the psychodynamic umbrella can be used depending on the issue that needs to be resolved for the client. This form of therapy is more time intensive than others and can take longer in obtaining good results, though research tends to support the notion that the results are even longer lasting. It does help increase self-awareness, becoming more adaptable, becoming more resilient and helping the client understand their thoughts and feeling better. Psychodynamic approaches have been effective in treating depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and stress.
Emotion focused therapy (EFT)
Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) is used to focus on the emotions and how we handle our ever changing emotional state. EFT focuses on the self (how you see yourself) and past relationships. It also helps to flush out whether your emotional needs are being met. Through EFT, figuring out your various emotional states and how to recognize those changes are part of the process. How you react to these different emotions and how you handle those situations are the primary focus on this therapy type. Typically EFT is used for interpersonal problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and couples/relationship difficulties. This therapy is long term and can take several months and sessions before results are experienced.
Whether you are depressed, anxious or suffering from something more difficult, finding the right therapy will be key to improving your overall quality of life. Doing a quick online search to find therapy in DC or near you can get you headed in the right direction pretty quickly. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, make sure you are making it a priority.