Mental Health Counseling

Once you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition by a medical professional, you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you.

The type of therapy or counseling that you receive will not only depend on your illness or disorder, but the severity of your condition, and if you are also prescribed medication.

You could be asked to participate in psychotherapy, which is commonly referred to as “talk therapy.” This type of therapy has many different kinds of approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

There are many different types of treatments and counseling services offered. These services should be approved by the American Psychological Association. When choosing a therapy and counseling plan, you must take the time with your doctor to find the best fit for you. Below are a few of the most common and approved forms of therapy and counseling for mental health conditions.

Counseling

Counseling is often recommended for those who have a mental health condition, and most patients can get counseling from their general practitioner. Counseling may be suggested if your psychological state is typically considered stable but you are currently going through a difficult time, such as the death of a loved one or a relationship ending in divorce. Counseling sessions typically last from six to 12 sessions, during which your general practitioner helps you to work through what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. But depending on the type of mental illness you have, counseling may not be enough, and your doctor may want you to try therapy.

Psychotherapy

Also known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is a popular form of therapy for mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression and anorexia nervosa. Therapy sessions for psychotherapy can range from one-on-one sessions between a therapist and a patient, or it can be given in a group setting with other patients, depending on what is suggested by the medical professional. Psychotherapy can help provide those who are suffering from a mental illness, and their families, with the support, guidance, and education that they need to cope with living with their mental health condition.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Another form of psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help those who suffer from a disorder identify and change the unhealthy, distorted, and inaccurate perceptions and beliefs that they have about themselves, as well as others, and can change the thinking patterns that they are used to feeling. It can also help them break the false beliefs that they think of themselves.

CBT is common among those who suffer from bulimia, borderline personality disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). CBT can help a patient reduce unhealthy moods and anxiety symptoms while also offering help to those patients who are at risk of suicide or self-harming behaviors. CBT also helps identify negative thoughts a patient has and teaches them how to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones through a technique called behavioral activation (BA). BA can be used to help treat patients with depression and SAD by assisting patients to discover activities that they find engaging and enjoyable, especially those with SAD to help them cope during the fall and winter months.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

When other forms of therapy may not be showing signs of helping a patient, a medical professional may suggest Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral treatment that hones in on therapeutic strategies that range from problem-solving, mindfulness, and acceptance, with methods that focus on dialogue. DBT originated as a treatment for people who have a borderline personality disorder, but it has since been used to treat patients with mental health issues, both chronic and severe, like eating disorders, self-harm, and post-traumatic stress. DBT is also used to teach skills that can help patients control intense emotions, improve relationships with themselves and other, and reduce any self-destructive behaviors that they may be feeling.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), is a type of short-term therapy that is designed to help adults who are having trouble forming bonds and attachment in relationships. Together with the patients, a therapist will look at the relationship as a whole and create a process to develop more trust and a more profound bond in a relationship to move it in a positive, safe and happy direction.

Patients who typically use EFT are families and couples in relationships that are facing distress and who want to learn how to build healthy relationships. Most times, patients participating in EFT sessions are working through fear, anger, betrayal, and loss of trust in their relationships and need an outside source to help work through the problems. EFT is not just helpful to those in distressed relationships, but if a partner or child is facing a severe illness. EFT can also be beneficial to individuals who show symptoms of trauma and depression.

Behavior Treatments

If a person is suffering from a substance abuse problem like alcohol, his or her doctor may choose a type of therapy known as behavior treatment. Behavior treatments are used to help find the root of a person’s drinking problem and change the behaviors that result in excessive drinking. While there are a few kinds of behavioral treatments, such as cognitive–behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, marital and family counseling and interventions, they all share common goals, which include:

  • Developing and implementing the skills needed to reduce or stop the habit.
  • Working on coping and avoiding triggers that may cause a relapse.
  • Creating and working towards attainable goals.
  • Building a secure social support system.

The purpose of behavioral treatments is to avoid confronting the patient about his or her drinking problem and to show support, empathy, and an overall goal of changing their drinking behavior for a successful recovery.

Light Therapy

If you suffer from SAD, which is a form of depression, your medical professional might recommend light therapy. Light therapy is used during the fall and winter months, when a person with SAD suffers the most, to expose them to daily artificial sunlight. Light therapy is typically administered by sitting the patient in front of a light box on a regular basis. Usually conducted in the morning, the treatment runs from early fall until springtime. Patients are asked to sit in front of the light for no more than an hour at an exposure that is about 20 times stronger than regular indoor lighting. While SAD patients may be treated with light therapy, most patients also require the help of antidepressants and psychotherapy to reduce symptoms of the disorder.

Though there are several types of therapy and counseling options for people that have a mental health condition, it is crucial that you work with a medical professional to help determine which path is right for you or a loved one. Trying to find treatment on your own may prevent you from getting the adequate help that you need.

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