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How Therapy Works and What Therapy Does

When you are struggling with your physical health, you go see your primary physician for advice, treatment, and possible medications. However, when it comes to struggling with your mental health, are you one to schedule an appointment with a therapist? Or are you likely to make excuses as to why you don’t need therapy. Truth is, everyone struggles with their mental health at some point or another. Although these struggles vary based on the individual, therapy is an ideal treatment for addressing various mental health concerns. 

Many people may hesitate to try therapy because they simply don’t know what therapy can do for them. To understand how therapy can benefit you, you first need to have an idea of how therapy works and what therapy does. In understanding these two things, it will become apparent why seeing a therapist for your mental health is just as important as seeing a physician for your physical health. 

Therapy, more formally referred to as psychotherapy, uses various scientifically-proven techniques to teach effective and healthy habits that are beneficial to your overall well-being. Depending on your unique situation, there are many different techniques that can be used. Some of the more common psychotherapy techniques include: 

Shows cyclical relationship between thoughts, feeling, and behaviors that CBT focuses on
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): concerned with identifying negative behaviors and patterns, then working on strategies to improve them
  • Family Therapy: focuses on establishing healthy family dynamics 
  • Group Therapy: centered around a specific focus and moderated by a therapist where multiple people can discuss concerns and ask for/provide advice
  • Couple Therapy: works with couples to discuss various relationship problems
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): helps patients understand their thoughts and actions are extreme and then teaches them more moderate ways of responding
  • Interpersonal Therapy: focuses on improving a patient’s ability to interact well with others in a variety of social situations

All of the above techniques approach talk therapy in a different way, and each technique works to accomplish a specific goal. The technique used for your sessions will depend mostly upon the symptoms you are experiencing. Most therapists opt for a CBT approach because this approach has proven to be highly beneficial in treating a variety of mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety. However, DBT may be used in treating symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and interpersonal therapy may also be used when treating depression. 

Couple holding hands during a therapy session

Furthermore, approaches such as couple, family, or group therapy may be recommended in certain cases. Couple and family therapy are generally recommended if there are relationship problems that are affecting the dynamics of the couple or family. Group therapy may be recommended as a way of working through certain issues in addition to or in place of individual therapy. 

Just as each approach works differently, each approach also has different goals. CBT and DBT, although different, both aim to teach patients how to identify and change their behaviors. Couple, family, group, and interpersonal therapy works on communication skills and group dynamics, while also addressing the issues affecting these dynamics. Additionally, group therapy also provides a safe space for people facing similar issues to discuss these issues. 

Overall, therapy works in different ways and does different things depending on the individual, couple, or family. While there is an overarching focus on learning effective and healthy habits to improve overall well-being, this is accomplished through the use of different techniques designed to help a specific issue. Each technique offers its own unique approach and set of goals to help an individual improve their mental health. 

Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability.  For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.            

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