What is talk therapy? Well, it actually refers to a range of different psychotherapies and focuses on resolving emotional distress, overcoming barriers to increased well-being, and personal development through verbal communication and support.
“Talk therapy can be used for many different types of issues, ranging from general stress, major life adjustments, relationship issues, as well as clinical presentations of conditions such as anxiety, depression, presentations related to trauma and personality disorders,” says Veronica West, a psychologist at the digital mental health platform Lysn.
West explains that during your first appointment for talk therapy, you can expect your mental health professional to answer a series of questions to get a full history of your current concerns, past experiences and your medical and social history.
From there, they will work with you to establish goals and a treatment plan that will often focus on one or more branches of talk therapy. Typically, each appointment will last about 45 minutes to an hour, and you’ll have them weekly to monthly, depending on your needs, goals, and finances.
As for whether you need to understand the different types of talk therapy, West says definitely not.
“The mental health professional you engage with will make sure they do a thorough initial assessment with you on your first appointment,” she says. “From there, they will discuss with you what therapeutic setting might be suitable and what it will look like in future sessions.”
That said, if you’re interested in starting talk therapy and you’re curious about how each works, or if you’ve already started your therapy journey and are wondering how it works (you can read more about my own therapy here), read on for a breakdown of some of the main types of it.
Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy was developed based on the concept that how we think about situations can affect how we feel and behave. As such, it emphasizes helping the client to become more aware of situations and thoughts that arise on a day-to-day basis, and how this affects the way someone feels and actions he takes based on that, West explains. .
“CBT provides the therapist and client with a framework to better understand triggering situations, unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, and helps the client learn skills to change them when identified as negative or unhelpful to the client,” she says.
“When you undertake CBT, your therapist will work with you to set clear treatment goals, perform regular check-ins, and invite you to be an active partner in the development of each session, as well as introducing healing skills. coping with different issues in your life.”
Dialectic behavioral Therapy (DCT)
Dialectical behavior therapy is one of the most structured approaches to talk therapy. DBT was originally developed from a framework similar to CBT, however, it’s often used for people who experience emotions in a very intense form, West says.
“In addition to focusing on helping the client identify and change their thought and behavior patterns, it also addresses skills that aim to help the individual better tolerate distress, regulate their emotions in a healthy way and develop their communication skills,” she says.
“DBT can certainly be used as part of individual therapy, however, it is not uncommon for DBT therapy to also be accessible in a group therapy format.”
Psychodynamic therapy is generally less structured in nature than, say, CBT and DBT, and focuses less on specific strategies and skills, West says.
“Instead, psychodynamic therapy is designed to help the client, in conversation with the therapist, identify patterns in their behaviors and relationships, better understand their emotions, and improve their relationships with important people in their life. .”
“Humanistic therapy is slightly different from other traditional talking therapies in that it focuses less on specific diagnoses, symptoms and history, and aims to help the person improve as a whole by allowing the client guide the topics and focus the conversation,” says West.
Humanistic therapy is based on the concept that the client is the expert in their life and experiences and aims to gently support change in relevant areas through conversation and unconditional acceptance, she says.
As such, the therapist will often seek to play a lesser role in therapy and encourage the client to guide the direction of therapy. Humanistic therapy comprises three main subcategories and as such may also be known as Gestalt therapy, client-centered therapy, or existential therapy.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Finally, there is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is loved and used by many mental health professionals in Australia and around the world.
“ACT is generally about actions and taking active steps in your life to move away from avoidance and learn to better listen to and accept your emotions without clinging to them,” says West.
“As with the other therapies mentioned, ACT focuses very much on developing skills through the practice of mindfulness. This allows the individual to be aware of and understand their own emotions and experiences and those of others. , while keeping psychological flexibility in mind.This incorporates emotional openness and the ability to adapt your thoughts and behaviors to better align with your values and goals.
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