Popular Types of Psychotherapy

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • More and more evidence supports the use of psychological interventions, with or without medication, for the treatment of depression. In this Sharepost I briefly introduce some of the more popular forms of psychotherapy and their basic approaches.


    As a psychologist I've become accustomed to people asking whether I can read their mind. I wish - it would make life a lot simpler! I mention this because it remains the case that anything with the prefix ‘psycho' seems to stir curious reactions in a lot of people. And so it is with psychotherapy, which is really no more than a word used to describe a variety of techniques designed to enhance a person's life. Increasingly, the term ‘talk therapy' is being used as an alternative, but this strikes me as a dilution of the years of training and supervision it takes to become a psychotherapist.

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    A good place to begin is to consider the ways that psychotherapy can help. This of course largely depends on the issues you take to the therapist, and in saying that, I recognize the danger of sounding evasive. In general terms therefore we can say that psychotherapy is proven to help reduce the symptoms of both depression and anxiety. It helps the person to identify triggers for depression and this gives you more control over the illness. Psychotherapy provides an opportunity to speak to a trained therapist in the knowledge they provide a safe environment and time. The therapist works with you in order to structure a healthy lifestyle.


    A number of different types of psychotherapy are available. They may approach your problem in a different way but all share the goal of working with you in order that you gain mastery over your life. Most approaches include some kind of education about the specific issues you are coping with and some personal strategies to be used as a way of problem-solving.


    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has become one of the most well known and widely practiced forms of psychotherapy. The emphasis is on altering thought patterns and beliefs that can alter behavior and worsen mood. Even within CBT there are varying approaches that may be adopted. Having said that, the main principles of education and learning new skills, are central. Homework tasks are usually suggested by the therapist and these focus on sorting out realistic problems highlighted by the patient.


    Family-focused Therapy draws in members of the family. The aim is to strengthen healthy interaction between the family members and to resolve issues of conflict. Family-focused therapy has been used to help family members come to terms with an attempted suicide.


    Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) emphasizes the role of personal relationships and how these affect mental health. It's use is perhaps more common with bipolar disorder. The interpersonal components of therapy involve focusing on resolving existing interpersonal problems, such as grief, interpersonal disputes, role transitions, and isolation.


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    Psychodynamic Therapy assumes that depression comes about as a result of unresolved and generally unconscious conflicts from childhood. Over a period of several weeks, months or longer, the therapist aims to achieve some form of resolution.


    There are many different types of therapy and sub-types of the main ones I've outlined here today. In practical terms it may be a case of seeing who or what services are available in your area.


    Have you received, or are you under psychotherapy? Why not comment on your experience for others to read and learn from?

Published On: July 12, 2010