Some people are looking to talk to someone, so they feel emotionally validated. Perhaps they need advice on how to handle their life problems. Other people need therapy to confront mental illness and develop healthy coping mechanisms. The good news is as a client; you have many options as to what kind of therapy you choose, whether it’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Psychoanalysis, exposure therapy, or DBT. There are many ways to get the help you need. Here is a list of articles describing the different types of counseling.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is therapy?
Therapy is a place where you spend a dedicated amount of time talking to a mental health professional. When you pursue therapy, you’ll talk with a psychologist, a social worker, or perhaps a licensed marriage and family therapist. These professionals are there to help you work through any problems that you’re experiencing in your life. No topic is off-limits in therapy. It’s your time to talk about what’s going on with you as an individual. You might go to therapy to treat mental health issues, or you might need to talk about the stressors in your daily life. Therapy can be conducted in a variety of ways, and different kinds of therapy will help different people. When you look for a therapist, you might come across professionals who practice psychodynamic therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which is used to treat trauma. It might take a couple of tries to find the right therapist and the most effective form of therapy for you. Once you find the right fit, it’s sure to be a game-changer.
Therapy is a place you work on you
Therapy is the process where an individual works with a mental health professional to develop coping skills, work through problems, and handle mental health issues. It’s a place for people to go when they are navigating life transitions, relationship problems, or work on any other life issues that may arise. Therapy is what you make of it. It’s a place where you’re in charge. You can use the time to vent about your daily life issues, talk about change and transition, and more. Therapy is a place where you communicate with a mental health professional who can help you grow as an individual.
When you decide to seek therapy
Deciding to seek therapy can be difficult. Maybe, you don’t want to admit that you have a problem or don’t want to feel like you’re “crazy.” You might feel shame about going to see a therapist, but you don’t need to be embarrassed about dealing with emotional issues. It doesn’t make you crazy to admit that you have problems. It makes you human because everyone has issues in their lives that they'll inevitably have to confront. By going to therapy, you're doing the right thing. Instead of avoiding your problems, you're facing them.
How to find the right therapist
It might be hard to know where to start if this is your first time seeing a therapist. If you have health insurance that covers behavioral health services, you can start there. Look for a therapist that’s covered by your insurance plan by calling your insurance company or searching online to see what therapists take your insurance. If you can’t find a therapist that accepts your insurance or you don’t have insurance, you can see a therapist at a low-cost clinic, or you can see one that works on a sliding scale. There are many options when it comes to finding a therapist. Start with talking to your general or family doctor. They probably get a lot of requests for therapy referrals and can help find you a therapist in your area. If you don’t want to see a local therapist and would prefer to talk to someone online, that’s always an option as well. Before we expand on that, let’s talk about the benefits of seeing a therapist.
The benefits of therapy
When you first start seeing a therapist, it’s about establishing a relationship and getting to know them. You might not know where treatment is going, or you might feel like nothing is happening at first. When you start doing the work in therapy, you might feel worse before you feel better. You might feel emotionally vulnerable or even broken, but we all have broken parts of ourselves, and you have to open those wounds to heal them, so don’t fret. Feeling worse before you feel better is a normal part of the healing process, and the outcome of therapy is worth it. Everyone has challenges that they have to deal with in life, and a therapist is there to help you handle those issues. When you see a therapist, you aren’t facing life alone anymore. You have a professional there to help, and what you tell them will be confidential and met without judgment.
There are many different schools of therapy. You might choose to work on changing your behavior by seeing a behavioral therapist, or maybe you want to work through trauma with a trauma-informed therapist. There are plenty of ways to better yourself. Different therapists use different approaches, and it depends on what kind of therapy you choose. For example, psychodynamic therapy helps people work through problems from their past and understand how those problems are contributing to their present life. Your therapist is there to listen and guide you toward solving your problems. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a place where you change the way you think to change the way you feel, and it can be extremely valuable for people who have anxiety or depression. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a specific form of therapy used for those with PTSD and trauma backgrounds. It is an excellent form of treatment to work through the pain and flashbacks associated with trauma. EMDR can help a person face traumatic life experiences, and learn to let some of the pain go from these events. Many studies indicate that EMDR therapy gives people results sooner than they would experience in traditional psychotherapy.
Common misconceptions about therapy
Some people believe that they don’t need a therapist and that they can solve their problems. As smart and intuitive as you are, it’s always helpful to have an objective person to help figure out what’s happening. You’re not objective about your own life, so therapy is beneficial for everyone in that regard. Another misconception that some people believe is that therapy is only for “crazy” people. It’s not. Therapy is for anyone who wants to better themselves and gain emotional insight into who they are. You can learn the tools to become more self-aware and balanced. Some people believe that therapy is for people who are self-absorbed and want to talk about themselves all the time and that it’s a place to complain. The reality is that treatment requires substantial emotional labor and it’s certainly not about complaining - therapy is about finding solutions to persistent problems in your life. A therapist isn’t there to listen to people whine. They’re there to help you be productive and learn how to help yourself.
How to know if a therapist is reputable
One of the things you want to make sure of before deciding to meet with a therapist is that the person can provide adequate mental health treatment. However, how can you be sure that your provider is capable of providing care for mental health issues? First, check to make sure they have a license to work with clients and provide mental health treatment. Your therapist needs to be licensed to practice in the state that you’re seeing them in. If they’re an online therapist, they should hold a license in the state that they provide mental health treatment to clients. Check their credentials and trust your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. The right therapist for you is going to feel like a good fit. If they don’t feel like someone that you can confide in and share your feelings with, then they’re not right for you. Know that you can choose someone else and that switching therapists is a perfectly okay thing to do.
Questions to ask yourself when choosing a therapist
When you’re seeing a therapist, you want to make sure that they care about your and they’re listening to your feelings. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your experience with your provider:
● Do you feel like your therapist cares?
● Does it feel like they understand you?
● Does it feel like your therapist accepts you?
● Do you feel like you can be honest with your therapist?
● Are they a good listener?
● Are they critical?
● Do you feel heard when you talk to them?
If you feel comfortable in your therapeutic relationship and it’s working for you, keep going. If not, choose somebody else. It’s normal to switch therapists a couple of times before you find the right fit, and it’s kind of like making friends in the sense that you won’t get along with everyone.
Common types of therapy
There are many different types of therapy ranging from standard talk therapy to art therapy. Many people choose to pursue individual therapy, where you see a therapist one on one to talk about the problems that you have as an individual. There is also family therapy, where you sit with a group of members from your family unit and talk about and talk about family dynamics and how you interact. In group therapy, you might be surrounded by people who have the same or similar issues that you have. You might attend a group for a specific condition, like substance abuse disorder or anxiety, or you might attend a DBT group. It’s a place where you learn from the other members of the group as well as the facilitator. Couples therapy is where you work on your romantic relationship or marriage and go through different communication strategies and ways to hear each other best.
Different types of therapists
To practice therapy, you have to be licensed by the state you live in, and you also have to have a degree in a mental health related area. Here are some different kinds of degrees a therapist might hold. Psychologists have PsyDs or Ph.D.’s, and they have doctoral-level education. Social workers (many of which are LCSW’s or Licensed Clinical Social Workers) have an educational background and training in social work. LMFTs or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists have a Master’s degree and can practice marriage and family therapy. Psychiatrists are MD’s (medical doctors) who can prescribe medication and can also conduct therapy sessions. There are many other professional designations that can practice therapy. If you’re not sure what those letters at the end of their name mean, search to find out.
What to expect in a therapy session
Every therapy session is different, but in general, you can expect that it’ll take about 45 minutes to an hour and that you’ll sit down with a licensed mental health professional to talk about your problems. Solutions don’t come right away, but it’s a journey that your therapist is on with you. If you put in the hard work, you and your life will change, and you’ll grow as a person for the better.
Therapy is where you make changes
Therapy is a place where you’re committed to changing aspects of your life that you find to be problematic. A therapeutic environment is one where you feel safe enough to confront your emotional issues and make changes. Some things work, and some things don’t, and sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error to establish what works for you. It’s a place where you can go to talk about what it means to you to grow as a human being. Therapy is a collaboration between you and the professional that you’re working with to better your mental health. You don’t have to do anything that you aren’t comfortable with in therapy, and it’s important to remember that you have the agency to move at your own pace in treatment.
Psychotherapy is when you spend time with a clinical psychologist for therapy services and talk through emotional problems. You might engage in Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic treatment, or even psychoanalysis. There are many different types of treatment, and you have to choose what works for you; it could be CBT, Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), exposure therapy, or if you’re working as part of a couple, couples therapy. Some people even find the most success in more unique forms of treatment, such as art therapy. There are so many kinds of mental health treatment to pursue, and it’s essential to find the one that best suits you and your needs. Remember that going to therapy doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. People see therapists every single day for an infinite number of reasons, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you're doing something positive for your mental health.
Why go to therapy?
There are so many reasons to go to therapy, but the number one reason is to help yourself. It can be helpful to decide in advance what it is that you want to work on, how you want to evolve and grow. You may be dealing with the recent loss of a loved one, or you may be going through a painful divorce, and you need to cope with that. You could be dealing with chronic anxiety problems, and finding the right therapist could change your life. Maybe, you have anger issues, and you need help understanding why you get angry and how to change it. Perhaps, you are struggling to process trauma, and need a safe place to go with a trained professional who can help you do it. It’s hard to figure out how to cope with all of these different struggles, and sometimes, you might not even realize all that you had going on until you’re sitting in therapy talking about how you feel and what you’re going through.
Where to get therapy
When you decide to work with a therapist, it can be overwhelming. Where do you look for a therapist? There are many options, and you may not know which one to pick. It’s okay to explore your options and choose which one works for you. You might want to see a therapist in person. If so, start by searching for one within your insurance plan. If you don’t have insurance, there are low-cost options available. You can find a local therapist in your area, or you can search the network of online therapists here at BetterHelp and find the perfect fit for you. Whatever you choose to do is up to you, but there are so many online mental health professionals that are here to support you and your individual needs in a comfortable and convenient setting. Online therapy is available to you anywhere that you have access to a reliable internet connection. You don’t have to face your life challenges alone. You can have the support of an online therapist who cares.