Mental health treatment or therapy for mental health is usually associated with overcoming illness rather than the pursuit of happiness.
Yet most therapeutic methods and forms of talk therapy aren’t just first-line treatments for established psychiatric disorders but can also help functioning adults learn to better manage and improve emotional health and physical health, reprioritize their own wellbeing, kick bad habits and develop better coping skills, overcome painful childhood memories and the impact they might have in the present day, and become well-adjusted.
Understanding the framework for psychotherapy and different common therapeutic processes can help would-be patients learn how therapy benefits both those who struggle with thoughts of depression or anxiety, as well as adults who may not necessarily feel at peace, but are just “getting by” emotionally.
How Does Psychotherapy Work?
Psychotherapy has its roots in the theory that talking to someone about their thoughts and emotions may reveal how their unconscious affects every conscious thought and decision they make.
Theories for mental health and illness have varied greatly throughout the centuries. Nowadays, our understanding of mental wellness and mental illness can be explained through the biopsychosocial model, wherein biological, psychological, and social factors each contribute to a person’s mental wellbeing, and lack thereof.
Risk Factors for Mental Health
Certain risk factors are more likely to contribute to their health negatively, including traumatic experiences, chronic stressors, substance use, a family history of mental illness; while certain protective factors help reduce the likelihood of mental illness, such as a healthy parental bond, strong ties within the community, and socioeconomic status.
Mental Health Modalities
The role therapy plays as a treatment modality might seem miniscule, because, at best, it helps patients adjust their perception without addressing key risk factors, such as poverty or past events.
But that in itself is already massively helpful. Research shows that therapeutic modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have a marked impact over placebo, helping patients categorize and eliminate false or unwanted thoughts, affect their disposition positively, reintroduce positive thinking, overcome traumatic memories, reduce stress, improve relationships, build emotional and social skills, improve self-esteem, and consequently improve mental health.
Therapies like CBT are not exclusive to patients with a diagnosed mental illness. Therapists can apply these techniques to other patients who are seeking help for their mental wellbeing, whether to manage stress and avoid a greater problem down the line, or to seek temporary counseling to help them through a hard time, such as after the death of a loved one or after a different personal loss.
Unlike medications, there is no unified body in the United States or anywhere else classifying therapeutic modalities as valid or not. Some therapies have much less evidence to support them than others.
The Prevalence of Psychotherapies
Therapies gain traction and prevalence in psychiatric circles for their successes among patients and the amount of objective research-based evidence backing their use. In certain regions, professional organizations like the European Association for Psychotherapy or American Psychological Association might lend credence to certain psychotherapies.
Different Types of Therapy for Mental Health
There are hundreds of different psychotherapies, each with a history of research behind them. Some are more popular and widespread than others. Some have a much larger evidence base than others. The more popular and well-documented modalities include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most heavily researched forms of psychotherapy. It focuses on identifying and overcoming unwanted or negative thoughts, including overgeneralization, rumination, and catastrophizing, and promoting healthier thinking as a way to affect behavior and mood.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was first developed to address borderline personality disorder and has since been applied to other mental health issues with success. DBT focuses on a dialogue between a patient and their therapist to identify incongruous or erroneous thinking and bring a patient back down to earth on their own terms. This can help keep patients from having their thoughts spiral.
- Exposure Therapy is commonly used in the treatment of OCD, phobias, and other anxiety disorders. It helps patients slowly learn to overcome their panic in the face of a trigger, one small step at a time.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy are often used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, helping patients unpack, engage with, and reprocess their traumatic past without triggering a fight-or-flight response.
- Neurofeedback: This therapeutic method analyzes a patient’s brainwaves and provides auditory or visual feedback whenever they respond in a certain way during a therapy session, effectively helping people train the way they think by receiving immediate guidance via a computer-generated output.
- Psychodynamic Therapy is one of the oldest existing psychotherapeutic methods, wherein a therapist invokes and discusses past experiences and childhood memories with a patient to discuss how they might be affecting the present.
- Group Therapy: Different therapeutic modalities can be applied both in a one-on-one context and in a group setting. A group setting completely changes the dynamic of therapy, as it is no longer solely about focusing on a single patient’s needs and experiences, but about sharing experiences with others, learning through other viewpoints and anecdotes, and inspiring hope in others through your own stories.
When Is Therapy for Mental Health Needed?
Talk therapies are often a first-line treatment (alongside or without medication) for most mental disorders. But not all of them are exclusively used for patients with a diagnosed condition.
There is little reason to attempt exposure therapy on someone without an intense and irrational fear, but cognitive-behavioral therapy can offer a framework for a one-on-one therapy plan for someone struggling with self-defeatist or negative thinking, or as part of marriage counseling.
If you are not struggling with a mental health issue, whether you need therapy is something only you can decide. There is no harm in considering a consultation with a professional to find out. Many therapists and psychiatrists offer initial consultations for free to help patients determine not only whether they’re a good fit, but whether they need this kind of therapy to begin with.
Finding the Right Therapist
Working with a therapist can be a deeply personal and difficult process. As such, finding the right one is critical.
While therapists are medical professionals, there is a great need for trust between a patient and their therapist to achieve results during therapy. Be sure to take your time to identify someone you like working with.
Find Your Peace at Amend Treatment
At Amend Treatment, we specialize in therapy for mental health and various co-occurring disorders. While staying at our facility, you or your loved one will receive personalized care while experiencing high-quality and luxury living accommodations.
Still on the Fence? Give us a call. We will be glad to answer all your questions.