What is Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a general term for treating mental health problems. Talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist allows one to learn better ways to deal with problems or concerns in their life.  During psychotherapy, you learn about your mood, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, compulsions or behaviors. Learning takes place during these talk and provides ways  respond  (act not react) to difficult situations in an effort to improve relationships and social functioning. There are many different types of psychotherapy with the most common being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Picture courtesy of: Basic Tenents of CBT by Urstadt (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of talk therapy that focuses on changing the way a person thinks, as many times our thoughts lead to our actions. CBT does this by exploring the relationship between a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.   A patient participating  in CBT is instructed to identify negative (reactive) thinking and change these thoughts patterns to respond in a healthy manner.  CBT is usually time-limited with a focus on a particular goal and is practiced by most psychotherapists, as it is accepted and covered by most insurances providers.  Whether or not CBT is effective depends strongly on the relationship  between the patient and the therapist, as well as the patient’s desire to  make a change.

Dialectical  Behavioral therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a modified form of CBT. DBT focuses on how a person interacts with others.  DBT theory suggests that we may react more intensely to situations that involve different people. Such as responding much more dramatically or emotionally to your spouse or parent then you would a co-worker.   DBT focuses on learning skills such as mindfulness or living in the present,  emotional regulation or emotional intelligence and distress tolerance. DBT is the primary therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder.   DBT is composed of both individual and group therapy and is typically provided over a year or more.

Picture Courtesy of: 2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy Cycle via Wikicommons (Public Domain)

Other Types of Psychotherapy

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, is a research-supported, psychotherapy approach designed to treat symptoms of trauma and posttraumatic stress (PTSD).  EMDR sessions follow a specific sequence of phases, and therapist use bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to help the patient  process unresolved memories from these events.

To learn more about EMDR click on the link below:

EMDR Institute