Psychotherapy is the first form of treatment for depression or anxiety and involves a variety of treatment techniques. During psychotherapy, the person experiencing depression or anxiety speaks with a licensed psychologist or therapist who helps him or her to identify and work on the causative factors. These factors trigger depression or anxiety by working in combination with chemical imbalances in the brain or heredity factors.
Psychotherapy helps people with depression or anxiety in the following ways:
- Understanding the behaviors, ideas, and emotions that contribute to depression or anxiety
- Identifying the problems or events that contribute to depression or anxiety and understanding which aspects of the problem they can solve
- Helping to regain a sense of control and pleasure in their lives
- Teaching them problem solving skills and coping techniques
Although psychotherapy can be performed in different ways, such as individual, family, and group therapy, there are also different approaches that psychotherapists can use to provide therapy. After having a brief talk with the client, the therapist will decide on the approach to use based on the underlying factors that contribute to the person’s depression. Many therapists specialize in one or more specific techniques or approaches. These different approaches to psychotherapy include psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and solution focused therapy.
This therapy assumes that the person is depressed due to unresolved, unconscious conflicts that often stem from childhood. The goal of this therapy is for the person to understand and cope better with these feelings by talking about such experiences. Psychodynamic therapy usually takes place over several months and can produce excellent results.
Interpersonal therapy mainly focuses on the person’s behaviors and interactions with family and friends. The goal of this therapy is to enhance self-esteem and improve communication skills during a short period of time. This therapy usually lasts for 3 to 4 months and works well for depression caused by social isolation, mourning, major life events, and relationship conflicts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people experiencing depression or anxiety to identify and change inaccurate perceptions they have about themselves and the world around them. The psychotherapist helps the client to think differently by directing attention to both the accurate and inaccurate assumptions they have about themselves and others.
This therapy is recommended for the following types of persons:
- People who think and behave in ways that trigger and perpetuate depression
- People who experience disability or interpersonal problems due to depression
Solution Focused Therapy
Solution focused therapy is a symptom-specific approach, which means it targets one or two stressors that are causing problems. The result might be helping the person find a better way to handle the boss at work or children at home. A person may simply learn techniques to handle anxiety. One therapist commented that solution focused therapy is like getting new tools in your toolbox to use immediately in your life, therefore helping you feel better quicker.
For an individual living with depression or anxiety, psychotherapy can promote better understanding of the condition and associated symptoms. For a person with depression, being able to talk with a psychologist or therapist who is there to listen, inquire, and help can be comforting as well as rewarding. After just a few sessions of psychotherapy, clients may feel a difference. Research suggests that three to five sessions often cause significant change. Talking through the issues can help identify behaviors and detrimental reactions or circumstances. Coping techniques can also be investigated during therapy sessions, and progress reports can be used to keep track of how these techniques work. For individuals experiencing anxiety or depression, being surrounded by loved ones or being encouraged to attend therapy sessions can provide immense support.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andrew Mendonsa, PsyD, therapist in Sacramento, California
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