mental health support

Exploring Your Options for Mental Health Therapy

March 12, 2024

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp

When you're experiencing a mental health challenge, finding the right kind of therapy can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

Psychotherapy isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for mental health conditions. If you've considered therapy, you've likely noticed the array of choices available. And with so many options out there, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

But you’re not in this alone. To get you started, here’s a straightforward guide to help you navigate the maze of therapy options and find the support you need to thrive.

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Understanding Different Types of Therapy
Therapies often fall into broad categories like cognitive, behavioral, humanistic or psychodynamic. However, within these categories, there are numerous specific approaches tailored to address different needs and conditions. Let's take a closer look at some popular options and therapy tips:

Psychodynamic Therapy

  • What is it? Psychodynamic therapy is what you think of when it comes to traditional talk therapy. You dive into your life story with a therapist who asks probing questions to help you uncover unconscious motivations and patterns of behavior.
  • Who can it help? Psychodynamic therapy has proven effective for various mental health conditions like depression and anxiety – and even for chronic pain. While effective for various conditions, it's particularly suited for addressing deeper emotional issues.
  • What to expect: This type of therapy takes a long-term commitment, but the insights you gain can fuel personal growth over time.

 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • What is it? CBT is structured and short-term. It helps you understand connections among your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, empowering you to break free from unhelpful patterns.
  • Who can it help? CBT is well-researched and effective for various conditions like anxiety, depression and phobias.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions with homework assignments in between. It's a guided process where you work with a therapist to recognize negative patterns and replace them with more constructive ones.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  • What is it? DBT integrates acceptance, mindfulness and emotion regulation techniques.
  • Who can it help? Dialectical behavior therapy has proven beneficial for self-harm, suicidal behavior, PTSD and more. It can be especially effective for borderline personality disorder.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions and possible group classes. DBT sessions focus on balancing acceptance and change, helping patients develop coping strategies.

 Cognitive Processing Therapy

  • What is it? CPT, a form of CBT, helps adjust trauma-based beliefs for a fulfilling life.
  • Who can it help? It's particularly useful for PTSD.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions for 12 weeks.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

  • What is it? PE confronts and exposes you to avoided situations, aiding in PTSD and anxiety disorders.
  • Who can it help? It's effective for various anxiety-related issues.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions for 8 to 15 weeks.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

  • What is it? EMDR helps patients reprocess traumatic memories through bilateral stimulation.
  • Who can it help? EMDR has proven especially beneficial for treating PTSD.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions for six to 12 weeks.

Interpersonal Therapy

  • What is it? IPT simultaneously addresses mood disorders and relationships.
  • Who can it help? Interpersonal therapy can be useful for treating depression, anxiety and more.
  • What to expect: Weekly sessions for 12 to 16 weeks.

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 Group Therapy

  • What is it? Group therapy can provide community support and shared experiences moderated by a certified therapist.
  • Who can it help? Group therapy can be beneficial for various mental health concerns.
  • What to expect: Regular sessions with a group of people experiencing similar mental health conditions. This may also include family therapy.

Exploring Hospital and Residential Treatment
In situations where a mental health condition poses a significant risk to your safety or ability to function, hospitalization may be necessary. Psychiatric hospitals offer 24-hour care, while residential treatment programs provide temporary supportive environments for patients in need of intensive support. Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs offer structured therapy while allowing you to continue living at home.

Finding the Right Therapist
Once you understand different therapy types, the next step is finding the right therapist for you. Here are some tips:

Research: Explore therapy options online and gather information about therapists in your area.

Ask for recommendations: Talk to your doctor or trusted friends and family for therapist recommendations.

Contact referral services: Use referral services from mental health organizations to find therapists in your area who specialize in your concerns.

Key Takeaway
Ultimately, you are the most crucial member of your treatment team. By actively participating in your care, communicating openly with your health care providers, and advocating for your needs, you can play a significant role in managing your mental health. Remember that treatment is not one-size-fits-all, and it may take time to find the right combination of therapies that works for you.
And while finding the right therapy is a process, it's definitely worth the effort. It's also important to keep in mind that your level of trust and comfort with your therapist may matter more than the specific type of therapy you choose. Take your time, ask questions and trust your instincts. With the right support, you can navigate mental health challenges and thrive.

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