A Guide To Mental Health Care: How A Clinical Therapist Can Help

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated February 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Taking the time to seek mental health care can be important for overcoming personal obstacles and leading a healthier life. Clinical therapists play a vital role in providing mental health guidance, resources, and treatment options for individuals with a wide variety of mental health concerns. In this article, we will explore the benefits of seeking support from a clinical therapist, different therapeutic approaches they might use, and how online clinical therapy may offer a more available way to receive the care you need.

Getty
Clinical therapists can improve your mental health

What is clinical therapy?

Clinical therapy, also called psychotherapy or counseling, is a type of mental health treatment that involves working with a licensed mental health professional. Mental health counselors may specialize in different approaches and have training as clinical therapists, clinical psychologists, or psychiatrists, in addition to other types of subspecialty training. For example, some professionals may also be licensed marriage and family therapists or specialize in treating substance use disorders. Most practitioners need at least a master’s degree to become a clinical therapist. 

Clinical therapy is often aimed at helping individuals experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties understand their experiences and develop strategies to improve and manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. While each treatment style and frequency can vary, many clients meet with their mental health professionals weekly to discuss concerns and create actionable steps toward achieving their goals. You may explore past experiences, identify negative patterns, and develop new coping skills to manage adverse symptoms. Clinical therapy is commonly used to treat mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and more. 

How can clinical therapy help?

The way in which clinical therapy may help you can depend on your condition or concerns and the therapeutic approach your mental health counselor takes. However, many patients experience benefits from clinical therapy, such as the following:

Addressing mental health concerns

If you have specific mental health concerns, your clinical therapist can work with you to diagnose your condition and direct you toward treatment methods that can help you improve your overall quality of life. This may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, medication management (medical doctors only), holistic therapy, or other types of mental health treatment. When matching with a clinical therapist, taking the time to find a professional with a background in specific mental health disorders may help you find the right therapist for you. A therapist who has experience with your type of condition may have insight into which treatment steps could be most beneficial for you.

Getty/Halfpoint Images

Increasing self-awareness

Clinical therapy often helps individuals gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This can be done through self-exploration and reflection exercises, helping patients realize patterns that may be contributing to adverse feelings and distress. By building self-awareness, patients can develop healthier coping strategies that can be used to manage daily life stressors and navigate mental health symptoms. In addition to this, building self-awareness can bring positive changes to interpersonal relationships, including romantic, professional, and personal connections. 

Developing healthy communication skills

Another common theme in clinical therapy focuses on building healthy communication skills. Communication skills may focus on interactions with colleagues, family, friends, strangers, or romantic partners. Developing these skills often helps individuals express their needs more clearly and establish boundaries. These skills can also play a part in building empathy and understanding in relationships, especially if mental health concerns play a role in everyday interactions and tasks. Clearly expressing one’s needs can promote healthier interactions and relationships, and decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflict

Developing emotional resilience

Clinical therapists can help individuals develop emotional resilience by teaching them coping skills related to everyday life challenges. By building emotional resilience, patients may be more equipped to navigate life stressors, maintain a positive mindset, and cultivate a sense of inner strength and stability. This can be especially beneficial to help individuals in certain occupations, such as health care professionals, avoid burnout. Licensed mental health counselors may also help their clients build emotional resilience related to family concerns. This may involve working with a licensed marriage and family therapist or partaking in family therapy.

Supporting overall well-being

Whether or not there are specific mental health issues that led you to seek help, clinical therapy can be a powerful way to find support and guidance through everyday life experiences. Clinical therapy can promote healthier overall well-being, including improved stress management and increased mindfulness. It can also assist individuals in building a balanced lifestyle and navigating personal changes.

Embracing the benefits of online therapy

The recent uptake of online mental health services has significantly increased reach  to mental health care globally. Online therapy may be preferable for those facing barriers to face-to-face therapy in personal practice settings. Individuals who live in remote areas or lack the time or financial resources to seek mental health care may benefit from getting mental health treatment from anywhere with an internet connection. This can be particularly helpful for those who work full-time or have familial responsibilities. Online counseling platforms like BetterHelp tend to be more affordable than traditional services, and individuals can choose to connect with their therapist through video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging.  

Appointments can also be flexibly scheduled, making it easy to maintain consistent sessions around busy schedules. If you travel frequently or have a changing daily schedule, being able to alter your appointment time based on time zone or activities can be beneficial. This flexibility may lead to more consistency and engagement in therapy, improving outcomes over time. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Clinical therapists can improve your mental health

Efficacy of online therapy

Research has shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for mental health concerns. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown significant efficacy in treating conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and more. Those who participate in online CBT programs often experience many benefits, including reduced language and geographic barriers to care. In one study, participants reported having a clearer understanding of their condition, having reduced anxious and depressive symptoms, and developing techniques to improve their mental health over time

Takeaway

Clinical therapists rely on their extensive knowledge of human psychology to support and treat their clients. Meeting with a clinical therapist may help you improve your mental health and overall well-being. Clinical therapists can work with you to address mental health concerns as well as improve your communication skills, self-awareness, and emotional resilience. When searching for a licensed clinical therapist, it can be important to connect with someone who is experienced in your area of concern. Online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp may allow you to find a personalized match and begin your journey to optimal health with a provider who understands what you’re experiencing.

Explore mental health and healing in therapy

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started