What Is Psychotherapy? | Overview, Types, & Why It Works For Mental Illness
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatment options for mental illness. During a psychotherapy session, a mental health professional helps you explore and manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Nearly all mental health treatment plans include psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is an effective treatment option for various mental health conditions.
At Ohio Recovery Center (ORC), we offer many different types of psychotherapy that can help improve your self-esteem, relationship skills, and ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations.
What Is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a type of treatment that helps people cope with psychological challenges, such as stress, grief, and mental health disorders. Studies show that psychotherapy can help treat numerous disorders, including:
- anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
During a psychotherapy session, a mental health professional helps you explore and manage difficult thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
This form of treatment can be provided by multiple types of mental health professionals at ORC, including psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatric nurses.
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Types Of Psychotherapy
Different types of psychotherapy use different strategies to increase your mental wellness. The most effective psychotherapies include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Perhaps the most popular type of therapy, CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors.
For example, if you experience the thought “I will never get better,” your therapist can help you adopt a more positive and realistic thought, such as “I can get better with the right treatment plan and support system.” This process can boost your confidence and help you make healthier choices in life.
Research shows that CBT can help treat various conditions, from generalized anxiety disorder to schizophrenia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
A modified form of CBT, DBT encourages you to change unhelpful behaviors while accepting difficult feelings and experiences that you cannot change. This acceptance can help you manage challenging situations more effectively.
Originally designed for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT is now used to treat other conditions as well, including PTSD and eating disorders. No matter your condition, DBT focuses on four main strategies:
- distress tolerance (coping with unpleasant feelings and experiences)
- emotion regulation (recognizing and managing your emotions)
- mindfulness (focusing on the present moment)
- interpersonal effectiveness (navigating relationships in a healthy way)
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR can help you process traumatic memories and change unhealthy beliefs or behaviors that resulted from your trauma. Though it was created for people with PTSD, it can benefit all trauma survivors, even those without a PTSD diagnosis.
During EMDR, your therapist will ask you to think of a traumatic event. They will then guide you through side-to-side eye movements, tones, or taps. This is called bilateral stimulation. Studies suggest it can help ease common PTSD symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, and self-blame.
Exposure therapy (ET) addresses mental health issues that involve intense fears, such as OCD, PTSD, and phobias. During ET, your therapist will help you slowly face your fears so you become less sensitive to them.
For example, if you have social phobia, your therapist may first ask you to call a friend on the phone. Over time, you will be asked to engage in increasingly more challenging social activities, such as large group events. This gradual exposure can show your brain that your fears are far less threatening than they seem.
During interpersonal therapy (IPT), your therapist helps you improve your relationship skills and manage interpersonal issues, such as isolation, loss of a loved one, or relationship conflicts.
This type of therapy focuses on the idea that boosting your interpersonal skills will improve your mental health. It was designed to address major depression, though it’s now used to treat other mood disorders as well, including dysthymia (mild depression) and bipolar disorder.
In group therapy, you get the chance to discuss your mental health experiences with people facing similar challenges. A mental health professional oversees each session and introduces discussion topics, such as self-care, coping skills, and conflict resolution.
Some types of group therapy also focus on strategies from CBT, DBT, or other psychotherapies.
Family Psychoeducation Therapy
To recover from a mental health condition, you need a strong support system. In family psychoeducation therapy, your family members will learn how to best support your journey through the highs and lows.
The therapist can also help you and your loved ones resolve conflicts and strengthen your relationships with each other.
Why Psychotherapy Works For Mental Illness
All types of psychotherapy can help treat mental illness by:
- helping you make positive changes in your life
- teaching you healthy coping strategies
- improving your relationship skills
- boosting your self-esteem
In addition, psychotherapy encourages people to address feelings and situations they might otherwise ignore. While addressing these experiences may cause discomfort at first, it’s an important step toward recovery from mental illness.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 75% of people who receive psychotherapy experience some benefit from it. In some cases, you might need to try multiple types of psychotherapy before you discover the type that works for you.
You may also find that psychotherapy works best when combined with other treatment methods, such as support groups, medications, and wellness activities. Your therapist or our treatment team can help you determine which methods will meet your personal needs.
To learn more about our psychotherapy options, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer a variety of evidence-based mental health services to help you or your loved one thrive.
- American Journal of Psychotherapy - Exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11977784/
- American Psychological Association — Understanding psychotherapy and how it works https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding
- Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2247440/
- The Permanente Journal — The Role of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Medicine: Addressing the Psychological and Physical Symptoms Stemming from Adverse Life Experiences https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951033/
- Psychiatry https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/