Psychotherapy, often referred to as talk therapy, is a treatment option for individuals suffering from a wide range of emotional and mental health issues. Psychotherapy can help a person perform better, feel better, and recover faster by eliminating or controlling unpleasant symptoms of psychiatric conditions.
At SoCal Mental Health, we offer psychotherapy as one of our Orange County treatment services. We specialize in a wide variety of evidence-based and traditional psychotherapeutic modalities. Whether through individual sessions or group therapy with supportive peers, we can help reduce symptoms and treat the root causes of mental health conditions.
Reasons for Seeking Psychotherapy
There are a variety of reasons why someone might seek psychotherapy, including the following:
- You might be dealing with severe or long-term stress from a job or family situation, the loss of a loved one, relationship, or family issues.
- You might have symptoms with no physical explanation: changes in sleep or appetite, low energy, a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed, persistent irritability, worry, or a sense of discouragement or hopelessness that will not go away.
- A health care provider may suspect or have diagnosed depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), [links to depression, anxiety, bipolar and PTSD pages] or other conditions or symptoms that may be interfering with your life and recommended psychotherapy as a first treatment or to go along with medication.
- You may be seeking treatment for a family member or child who has been diagnosed with a condition affecting mental health and for whom a health care provider has recommended treatment.
A medical issue could be to blame for symptoms such as a change in mood or difficulty focusing. By having a doctor’s examination, you can be confident that there is nothing wrong with you or your loved one’s general health.
Typical Therapy Sessions
Clients benefit from therapy, whether it’s done alone, with family, as a couple, or in a group environment. Psychotherapy requires active participation from both the client and the therapist. Working together successfully and benefitting from psychotherapy requires trust and a connection.
When it comes to psychotherapy, it may be short-term (a few sessions) to deal with current problems or long-term (months or years) to deal with more complicated and long-standing issues. Together, the client and therapist will decide on treatment objectives. The more a client is comfortable sharing intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences, the greater the chance of identifying the root of their issue. As such, confidentiality is fundamental to all psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy: Components and Goals
Specific illnesses may benefit from certain psychotherapies and treatments that have been tested and shown to be helpful. If someone has bipolar disorder, their therapy will be different from someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Depending on their training, the disorder being treated, and the patient’s specific requirements, therapists may employ a single main method or combine components from many different approaches.
Components and goals of psychotherapy can include:
- Assisting someone to become aware of instinctive yet mistaken and damaging patterns of thinking (e.g., someone who has a low opinion of their abilities). With the therapist’s assistance, the client learns to challenge these beliefs, see how their emotions and behaviors have been influenced, and work together to develop ways to alter self-defeating habits. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) uses this strategy as its foundation.
- Identifying coping mechanisms and problem-solving tactics for dealing with stress.
- Examining a person’s social interactions and providing advice on communication and social skills.
- Introducing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises to reduce stress and triggers.
- Experiencing exposure therapy; a person may undergo exposure therapy, a kind of CBT, to learn to cope with the discomfort that particular things, thoughts, or imagined scenarios produce. Through guided therapy, it is possible for the terror that comes with these things to go away with time.
- Tracking emotions and behaviors to raise awareness and the impact these have on each other.
- Counseling that focuses on providing emotional support while also assisting a client in exploring difficult or complex problems.
- Creating a safety plan to help someone who has thoughts of self-harm or suicide recognize warning signs and use coping strategies such as contacting friends, family, or emergency personnel.
There are many distinct kinds of psychotherapy. Treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are variants of a tried-and-true model. Psychotherapies do not have the same official approval procedure as medicines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, research involving a large number of individuals has shown the efficacy of therapy for treating a range of mental health conditions. Depression, anxiety, and other illnesses can be treated using psychotherapy, possibly in combination with medication.
Types of Psychotherapy
There are five broad categories of approaches to psychotherapy. Each category provides a roadmap for the treating psychologist to help their client understand their problems and create goal-orientated solutions.
The 5 psychotherapy approaches include:
- Behavior Therapy — such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on thoughts, behaviors, conditioning, and desensitizing.
- Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies — focus on discovering unconscious meanings and motivations related to ones thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Cognitive Therapy — focuses more closely on thoughts, and less so behaviors. The idea behind cognitive focused therapies is that dysfunctional thinking leads to the majority of one’s negative emotions and behaviors. So, fixing one’s thinking is the primary objective.
- Humanistic Therapy — emphasizes one’s respect and concern for others and making rational choices so that one may achieve their full potential.
- Holistic Therapy — or integrative therapy, focus on blending different approaches that act on the person as a whole. This can include anything from nutrition to exercise or experiential therapy.
Types of psychotherapy can include different formats as well, including:
- Individual therapy — that involves one-on-one communication between patient and therapist.
- Group Therapy — that involves at least 2 patients with a therapist. Here the patients can share experiences and learn from and relate to others’ struggles.
- Couple Therapy — that involves spouses and partners understand each other and what they can do to cope with aspects of their relationship.
- Family Therapy — because family relationships are typically a key part in helping people with mental illnesses better their condition. It is helpful for family members to better understand what their loved one is dealing with and what they can do to help.
Medication and Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy and medicine are often used in tandem for the treatment of mental health issues. Medications may be helpful in certain situations, but psychotherapy is often used for most conditions. Combining medicine with psychotherapy is preferable for many individuals whose disorder is caused by chemical imbalances. Recovery and general well-being can also be improved by making healthy lifestyle changes including improving diet, increasing physical activity, and getting enough sleep.
Psychotherapy is often used to help a person address particular problems even when medications are used to alleviate symptoms. There are a variety of things that may fall under this category, such as negative thought patterns, phobias, difficulties relating to others, or coping with issues at home, school, or job. As such, psychotherapy works to address a range of issues and can improve treatment outcomes.
At SoCal Mental Health, each client’s unique requirements and physical condition is taken into consideration while selecting the best treatment plan. All of the decisions regarding medication and psychotherapy are undertaken with the supervision of mental health professionals and our medical director. Treatment plans are tailored to the individual, often combining modalities that complement each other for the best outcomes. With a wide range of evidence-based therapies, the roads to a better life are wide open for those who want to make a change.