Mental health is a multifaceted and complex field, but a valuable resource for individuals seeking support to meet their social, psychological, and emotional well-being. With nearly a billion individuals worldwide suffering from mental problems, there is more need for quality mental health services than ever before.
So what kind of therapy is best? Unfortunately, there is no perfect therapy, as each patient’s mental health needs involve critically evaluating several factors. Keep reading as this article digs deeper into various counseling techniques and how to use them.
Mental health therapy
Mental health therapy is a type of care that seeks to resolve unhealthy emotional thoughts and responses. At its core, therapy offers an open, secure setting where individuals can identify issues and goals and collaborate with a therapist to resolve them.
Some major types of therapy include grief support, substance misuse counseling, family and marriage therapy, and mental health counseling. Mental health therapists’ responsibilities differ depending on their work environment, type of patients, and career paths.
A mental health therapist
A mental health therapist or counselor is a trained professional in treating mental health concerns or conditions. This may involve several diagnoses, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance use disorders
- Eating disorders
They are responsible for helping patients manage psychological issues by supporting and guiding them in learning to change negative thought patterns and behaviors. These skills can be acquired by enrolling in a reputable institution such as St. Bonaventure for an online mental health counseling masters degree. The program will help to develop the skills and knowledge to meet diverse populations’ behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues. Mental health issues manifest with unique sets of risk factors and warning signs. This program will provide the necessary tools to understand what they look like and how they can present differently from person to person.
Most common counseling methods and their uses
Here are the most common counseling methods and how they work.
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is founded on the idea that emotions are essential to identity. According to EFT, emotions can also serve as a guide for personal decision-making.
The approach assumes that not being emotionally aware or repressing negative emotions can be harmful. It can prevent people from using the crucial information that emotions represent.
In this approach, therapists must question and listen compassionately, reflect, and be non-judgmental. Doing so enables the patient to comprehend their feelings better. Then, various coping strategies are explored to help the patient face and manage their emotions.
Emotional counseling may further aid individuals in distinguishing between unhelpful and helpful emotions to improve self-regulation. Each session frequently has one or more of the following objectives for the client:
- Increase emotional sensitivity
- Learn to accept, permit, and control emotions.
- Learn to express feelings in detail and with clarity.
- Learn to recognize the most immediate response and become more conscious of the many facets of emotional experiences.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-known treatment form that has proven effective for various mental health issues. It assists people in breaking destructive cycles and confronting mental patterns that can cause despair and anxiety.
CBT emphasizes the connections between patients’ thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they may alter their actions and ideas to enhance their mental health. Therapists can use this approach to treat various mental health issues, including the following:
- Anxiety disorders
- Stress management
With CBT, patients and therapists can work together to identify opposing thoughts or actions. They can then collaborate to develop strategies for countering those unsettling thoughts with more rational or positive ones.
Family therapy may be one of the best solutions for relationship problems that are creating a lot of stress. It is a kind of counseling that aims to resolve interpersonal problems by bringing family members together.
Family therapists can help clients handle unresolved issues and establish techniques for fostering stronger bonds with family members. Additionally, this therapy focuses on learning better ways to address relationship conflicts and getting insights into personal behaviors.
This treatment is especially beneficial for dealing with parenting difficulties, financial stress, family disease, alcohol or drug addiction, and poor communication. Family therapy often entails the following:
- Examining how family dynamics may be influencing the current problem
- Addressing and comprehending interactional patterns
- Creating appropriate boundaries between family members
- Developing efficient methods for resolving disputes amicably
- Fostering trust while upholding mutual respect
- Improving how one expresses emotions and expectations
Group therapy is a terrific approach to seeking assistance for mental health and addiction challenges, given the motivation from clients going through similar issues. Clients can learn and motivate each other while applying what they have learned throughout their journeys. The technique can be beneficial in fostering a sense of belonging and community.
Additionally, it offers them the chance to receive input from an impartial outsider, the therapist. Therapists can advise on the ideal way to handle the situation, assist them in navigating challenging emotions, and provide support.
Occasionally, these sessions will concentrate on a specific problem or subject, such as stress management or substance misuse. The sessions may also involve activities such as role-playing when group members put independent thinking and problem-solving skills to the test.
Group therapy in conjunction with one-on-one counseling sessions is significantly successful in treating addiction. There are particular forms of group therapy created especially for people facing addiction, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which offers support systems that encourage people to start undertaking harm reduction measures while in recovery.
Reality therapy was derived from Alfred Adler’s social content of human behavior concept developed in the 1950s. It is founded on choice theory, which emphasizes people’s ability to influence their actions. While not all parts of life are under our control, human beings have a chance to act responsibly or logically.
Reality therapy assists clients in taking more control of their lives while improving the potential to create deep and fruitful relationships. It is a modern, symptom-free method in which the therapist adopts a warm, upbeat, and non-judgmental posture. Reality therapy encourages personal accountability for actions while assisting clients in making choices consistent with their life goals.
Humanistic therapy is a therapeutic approach that examines how a client’s worldview influences their decisions, particularly distress choices. It is founded on the idea that an individual is the ideal person to comprehend their needs and experiences.
This approach can be perfect if clients want to make positive life changes and enhance personal growth. The technique provides more insights into themselves and how past experiences have influenced their behavior. It promotes personal accountability and increases self-awareness regarding one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Humanistic treatment does not spend too much time examining the root causes of a mental health problem. However, it concentrates on how clients will make positive life changes. The primary emphasis is on the present and not the past.
They will gain the ability to reinterpret challenging ideas and circumstances and a deeper comprehension of who they are, which can help them make better decisions. All these are essential components to establishing a more fulfilling life.
A humanistic therapist must provide advice and assistance without interpreting their feelings. This way, therapy assists them to comprehend better what they are going through. It must support them as they strive toward living the most satisfying life, mainly by enabling them to be authentic.
Along with talking about their problems, they will spend time investigating how to develop and improve self-acceptance. The therapist supports them as they strive toward living the most satisfying life, mainly by enabling them to be authentic.
Unconditional positive regard plays a significant role in humanistic therapy. It means that even if the therapist disagrees with a client on some issues, they will still accept them. In particular, humanistic therapy can help deal with the perceived or actual unfavorable judgment of others.
Typically, in this approach, the client is in charge of leading the session. When necessary, the counselor will intervene, but generally, you will actively listen to them and occasionally probe for clarification. Let’s look at some of the humanistic therapeutic approaches:
Gestalt treatment: With this method, counseling will analyze how unsolved problems, such as family conflicts and relationships, affect the patient’s emotional well-being. Gestalt therapy emphasizes the current and frequently uses visualization or movement to role-play or act out events.
Person-centered counseling: This method is based on the idea that when people criticize or express disapproval of an individual’s decisions or actions, it may cause emotional anguish. Self-acceptance and progress may be challenging as a result. Counselors offer guidance, empathy, and acceptance, and clients will work on positive changes and personal growth.
Existential counseling: In this approach, clients will think about ideas such as taking responsibility for their freedom and decisions to make their choices. The counselor will spend time discussing the significance of particular events in their lives and potential avenues for enhancing their sense of purpose.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and CBT are similar. However, DBT emphasizes embracing unsettling feelings and thoughts, being mindful, and controlling emotions. It combines mindful Eastern practices, while cognitive behavior therapy focuses on accepting conflicting emotions.
The counselor can assist a patient in striking a balance between acceptance and change by using DBT. They can also impart new skills to a patient using DBT, such as improved coping mechanisms and mindfulness exercises.
Psychotherapists initially developed DBT to help patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) manage suicidal thoughts. Counselors can also employ this technique to treat various conditions and have significant long-lasting effects. These conditions include the following:
- Mood disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
This method enables those with BPD to reduce stress and deal with emotionally draining circumstances more helpfully. It helps alter actions brought on by upsetting thoughts, develop social skills, and be mindful of one’s surroundings. The objective is to assist patients in acquiring the abilities needed for long-lasting transformation in their lives.
DBT achieves this by emphasizing four main aspects: interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. All the elements work together to help individuals control their emotions and balance change and acceptance.
Behavioral therapy emphasizes action-oriented approaches to mental health treatment. Based on behavioral theory, some habits come about due to lessons individuals have learned in the past. Some of these actions might harm their life or upset them.
However, people can alter their behavioral responses with the use of behavioral therapy. They will spend little time exploring the underlying causes of their behavior or resolving emotional issues. Instead, the therapist will use strategies to alter the distressing behavioral responses and patterns. The various variations of behavioral therapy include the following:
Systematic desensitization: This incorporates deep breathing exercises with cumulative exposure to the client’s phobia. The approach might assist clients in gradually becoming accustomed to substituting a relaxation response for sensations of anxiety and fear.
Flooding: Flooding is similar to systematic desensitization but requires clients to confront their concerns head-on rather than over time. For instance, if they are afraid of cats, the initial step could involve sitting in a room full of playful, friendly cats.
Aversion treatment: Aversion treatment helps clients develop the ability to link the behavior they want to alter with something unpleasant or uncomfortable in some way. This connection might encourage them to discontinue the activity.
Creative art therapy
Creative art therapy aims to improve mood and stimulate the mind through innovative techniques. The technique allows people to express their feelings through various mediums, such as poetry, music, dance, or art.
It is more effective where verbal communication is either impossible or extremely difficult, such as with individuals with speech impairment, atypical children, and preschool children. Similarly, it is essential for individuals who can speak but can communicate more effectively through art.
It is a component of who humans are that, when carefully examined, allows them to delve into the depths of their emotions. The goal of the art therapist today is to support clients in their creative process by understanding how and what they are making, getting to know them better, and assisting them in overcoming some challenges in life.
The process rather than the finished work is crucial in art therapy. Whatever the end product’s visual appeal, its value lies in accurately capturing who clients are and how they feel at a given time.
Psychoanalysis is a therapeutic approach that involves collaborating with the patient to identify and comprehend their unconscious behaviors, feelings, and ideas to see how they affect their current actions.
The concept is to understand the psyche’s complex dynamics, the portion of the mind that exists outside of consciousness, which helps us feel more at peace. Let’s look at various ways psychoanalysis can assist in treating mental health conditions:
- Deal with psychological stress or trauma brought on by childhood incidences
- Get relief from phobias, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
- Acquire a deeper awareness of unreasonable or self-destructive behavior patterns.
- Identify protective mechanisms that prevent problem-solving or insight abilities.
- Discover more about one’s self by investigating repressed thoughts and emotions.
- Establish stronger relationships and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Although psychoanalysis may take time, it can help determine how unconscious emotions affect a patient’s present-day life and help them make long-lasting adjustments.
In conclusion, there are various counseling techniques today, each suited to particular mental health issues and needs. With the best approach, counselors can assist clients in developing good problem-solving abilities, coping mechanisms, and more effective mental health maintenance methods.
It is essential to develop a thorough awareness of the various counseling techniques. Doing so will provide the crucial knowledge and abilities required to materially enhance the lives of persons coping with mental health challenges.