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Mental Health and Psychotherapy

(continued)

Approaches to Therapy continued...

Psychodynamic and interpersonal therapies help patients resolve mental illness caused by:

  • Loss (grief)
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Role transitions (such as becoming a mother, or a caregiver)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people with mental illness to identify and change inaccurate perceptions that they may have of themselves and the world around them. The therapist helps the patient establish new ways of thinking by directing attention to both the "wrong" and "right" assumptions they make about themselves and others.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is recommended for patients:

  • Who think and behave in ways that trigger and perpetuate mental illness.
  • Who suffer from depression and/or anxiety disorders as the only treatment or, depending on the severity, in addition to treatment with antidepressant medication.
  • Who refuse or are unable to take antidepressant medication.
  • Of all ages who have mental illness that causes suffering, disability, or interpersonal problems.

Therapy Tips

Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled appointments. The effectiveness of therapy depends on your active participation. It requires time, effort, and regularity.

As you begin therapy, establish some goals with your therapist. Then spend time periodically reviewing your progress with your therapist. If you don't like the therapist's approach or if you don't think the therapist is helping you, talk to him or her about it and seek a second opinion if both agree, but don't discontinue therapy abruptly.

Tips for Starting Therapy

Here are some tips to use when starting therapy for the first time:

  • Identify sources of stress: Try keeping a journal and note stressful as well as positive events.
  • Restructure priorities: Emphasize positive, effective behavior.
  • Make time for recreational and pleasurable activities.
  • Communicate: Explain and assert your needs to someone you trust; write in a journal to express your feelings.
  • Try to focus on positive outcomes and finding methods for reducing and managing stress.

Remember, therapy involves evaluating your thoughts and behaviors, identifying stresses that contribute to your condition, and working to modify both. People who actively participate in therapy recover more quickly and have fewer relapses.

Also, keep in mind, therapy is treatment that addresses specific causes of mental illness; it is not a "quick fix." It takes longer to begin to work than medication, but there is evidence to suggest that its effects last longer. Medication may be needed immediately in cases of severe mental illness, but the combination of therapy and medicine is very effective.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 11, 2014
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