Different Kinds of Therapy

 A few therapeutic methods include the following.  This is only a list of some of the more common techniques.  Most therapists use a range of techniques and tailor what is used to each client’s unique needs.

Insight-oriented psychotherapy focuses on the whole person and uses many of the principles and traditions of psychoanalysis as developed by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.   The goal is healing through self-awareness.  When we become aware of our needs, motivations, and patterns of behavior, we are able to make better choices for ourselves.  Insight-oriented psychotherapy helps you see how earlier events affect current problems and understand the underlying patterns influencing your current ways of managing life and relationships.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) recognizes the primacy of the current interpersonal world of the client in the formation and maintenance of symptoms and social dysfunction.  Therefore, a therapeutic approach emphasizing interpersonal therapy capitalizes on addressing both past and current relationships and presupposes that improvements in relationships will lead to improvements in symptoms and general well-being.  The relationship between the client and therapist represents an opportunity to explore the client’s style of relating within the therapeutic relationship.

Cognitive therapy focuses on helping the person to change the assumptions, mind-sets and patterns of thinking that lead to misconceptions and problems.  The goal is to resolve difficulties by correcting distortions of thoughts and feelings.  Its focus is primarily on current difficulties rather than past events.

Behavioral therapy uses a variety of re-education and re-training techniques to modify behavioral patterns that are causing distress or problems in daily living.  The focus of behavioral therapy is almost solely present concerns and problems.

Exposure therapies are variants of behavior therapy in which the patient confronts a feared situation, object, thought, or memory.  Sometimes, exposure therapy involves remembering a traumatic experience in a controlled, therapeutic environment.  The goal of exposure therapy is to reduce the distress, physical or emotional, felt in certain situations.  Exposure therapy may be used in dealing with anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress, and other problems.  Exposure therapies include graduated exposure and response prevention as used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and prolonged exposure (PE) are specialized therapies that include many of the elements of other therapy techniques in addition to an exposure aspect.  Both methods are used to intervene with anxiety and recent and past traumatic experiences. For more information about EMDR go to www.emdr.com.

Family therapy is often the most useful approach when information or cooperation from all or part of the family is essential, or when the problems to be addressed affect the entire family.  There may be one individual who is having the most difficulty, but sometimes everyone needs to make changes for those problems to improve.  Family therapy may be helpful in conflicts involving parents and children, siblings, or the whole family unit.  It is also used when the problems of the parents are affecting the children, to assist in the blending of stepfamilies, or when adults want to address difficulties with their older parents or siblings.  It may also be helpful to families dealing with issues of grief, chronic illness or other stressors affecting the entire family.  Family therapists pay attention to family patterns and their effects on relationships or issues within the family.  They emphasize either the self-awareness of family members or use techniques to bring about behavioral change.

Couples therapy:  Partners in committed relationships start out with many hopes, both realistic and unrealistic, for creating a rich and satisfying life together.  Unfortunately, life’s stresses, disappointments and tedious routines often lead to disillusionment.  When this happens, some couples fight, some grow apart, and some find themselves living in great pain, tension, and suffering.  These are the times couples enter therapy.  Many couples see a therapist when they are contemplating separation, hoping to make a last ditch effort to see if they can stay together.  Therapy can help improve the communication and understanding between partners, but ultimately the individuals make their own decisions about whether or not to remain in the relationship.  The therapist will usually see the couple together.  The focus of some sessions may be childhood issues, expectations, and relationship patterns, while at other times the therapist may focus on communication and problem solving.  It is important that both partners feel comfortable with the therapist and the goals of the therapy.

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