Life. It can sometimes challenge us in unexpected ways, and therapy is designed to help us overcome those challenges. In recent years, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise, and through empirical testing, psychotherapy has proven to be as effective treatment method as medication (in some studies, therapy was a superior treatment to medication—the rationale being that when therapy ceases, the insight gained through therapy remains).
But not every treatment method works as effectively for everyone. In some instances, variables such as the relationship between the client and the therapist can play a role in predicting success as well as the level of commitment on behalf of the client.
That said, however, over the decades, much attention has been paid to different therapeutic interventions, and an array of different approaches and “schools” to therapy have emerged. Some of these approaches emphasize the role thoughts can play in helping to shape our attitudes, moods, and patterns of behavior. Others, on the other hand, may move away from cognition and focus on providing a warm and empathic environment in which the client feels unconditionally accepted. Finally, other therapies, such as marriage/family counseling, may tend to focus more on group dynamics.
Whichever type of therapy you opt for, however, make sure it is credible and that the professional you choose to work with has the proper training and credentials. Some therapies are well vetted, have been the subject of testing for effectiveness for years, and remain highly effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy, and pet therapy, all have some research behind them. Other therapies, however, have not been held to the same standards. Speaking generally, therapies that involve different magnets and metals are considered to be quackery, for example. Therefore, it may pay to read a little bit about the type of therapy that you may be considering.
Overall, talk therapy is a safe and effective treatment method that remains useful for dealing with life’s challenges. It depends on the specific problem, but sometimes therapy works best in conjunction with medication, although you would need to speak with a medical professional (MD, DO, CNP) to pursue that sort of intervention.
Therapy might be good for you during “crisis moments” in life, such as after the death of a loved one or after the loss of a job. Other times, some individuals opt to continue therapy for years for dealing with longer-term problems. Individuals with a history of chronic substance abuse or anxiety may fall within this category. Again, everyone is different, and he or she may require different interventions, depending on the problem he or she is facing. What is more, talk therapy is not simply for the challenging times in life—many seek therapy as a means of self-improvement, self-knowledge, and a way to become a better version of themselves.
Knowing if therapy may be a good choice for you depends on several important factors, but when deciding on choosing a therapist make sure to assess the quality of the therapist, the type of intervention that he or she uses, and always seek out credible services and professionals. Finally, if you are facing a problem, you need not face it alone, and therapy remains a good choice in combating life’s hardest moments (or even if you are simply have a desire for self-improvement, or just need a mental health check up).