Therapy and counseling are types of treatment to improve your mental well-being. These treatments can help people who are experiencing emotional or behavior problems, or people who have a mental health disorder. Therapy is sometimes called psychotherapy (say: sike-o-ther-apy) or talk therapy. If you are taking medication for a mental health disorder, therapy will usually improve the results you are get from the medicine.
Different types of therapy use different techniques. In most kinds of therapy and counseling, the person receiving treatment will talk with a professional therapist. However, therapy is more than just talking about your problems. Therapy can teach you new ways to think about the situations that bother you and help you cope with your feelings. It can help with feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, shyness and panic. It can also give you tools to help fight low self-esteem and depression, for example.
Some people may not want professional therapy or counseling because they feel ashamed of their problems. Others may believe that therapy and counseling are for seriously mentally ill or “crazy” people only. But this is not true. Don’t let shame and fear stop you from getting the help you need. Good mental health is part of your overall health and well-being.
Therapy can help treat a variety of problems. Some common reasons why people seek therapy include:
If you are not sure if therapy and counseling are right for you, talk to your family doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a trained professional who can help with your problems.
The first time you meet with your doctor or therapist, you'll talk about any problems you've been having and how you've been feeling. You'll also talk about your goals for therapy. You and your doctor will decide how frequently you will meet. Your doctor, therapist or counselor will help you decide what's right for you.
Different kinds of therapy and counseling are based on different ideas about how the brain works and what causes people to act in certain ways. Many therapists use more than 1 type of technique to help you. Some common kinds of therapy are listed below.
Family counseling helps family members understand problems within the family and how to resolve them.
Cognitive therapy is sometimes also called cognitive behavior therapy. It’s based on the idea that your thoughts cause your feelings and actions. If you change the way you think about something, you can feel or behave better even if the situation doesn’t change. This kind of therapy helps you understand negative or false thought patterns that cause troubling feelings and behavior.
Behavior therapy is sometimes called behavior modification therapy. This kind of treatment focuses on changing unwanted or unhealthy behaviors and replacing them with healthy ones. This treatment often involves using a system of rewards and reinforcement of positive behavior.
Psychoanalysis is a kind of treatment that encourages you to think and talk about memories and feelings from the past. The idea is that these memories will help you understand how you act and feel today.
Group therapy is guided by a qualified leader. This professional facilitates a small group of people who have similar issues or problems. A group situation can improve honest interaction with others. Group members can also support each other during times of crisis.
Couples therapy or marriage counseling can help couples solve problems together, communicate in healthier ways and learn to work out differences.
Therapists or counselors who are trained in psychotherapy include professionals from the following areas among others: psychiatry, clinical psychology, mental health counseling, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling and psychoanalysis. Your family doctor can help you choose the right professional to help you address your specific needs.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff