mindfulnessIt can be challenging to choose the right therapist.  Do you want an online, phone, or in-person psychotherapist?  Are you looking for therapy for anxiety disorder, depression, guilt, shame, anger, or for addiction?  Do you want cognitive behavioral therapy, or a mindfulness therapy? If you do a local Google search, you will uncover one warm, smiling face after another. These images will be paired with compassionate descriptions of why you should choose them as your therapist for anxiety disorder, depression, guilt, shame, anger, or addiction. It is a challenging decision as you want to build a partnership with the therapist so you can be as open and vulnerable as possible to expedite the healing process.

First, it is important to understand there are different therapeutic modalities, and you will want to find the one that is most effective and right for you. Here are descriptions of the more common types:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Based Therapy is a type of therapy in which thoughts are challenged to change unwanted and painful behaviors and patterns. It is highly effective and tends to be a short-term therapy. It is especially effective for anxiety disorder, depression, guilt, shame, anger, and addiction issues. Between sessions, practice assignments are often used to build new and positive habit patterns. The focus is on present-day behaviors and situations. It is an excellent treatment option with high success rates for teens, adults, and couples. It tends to steer clear of stories and childhood analysis. The focus is on current behavior.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: A form of cognitive behavioral therapy that challenges thinking spirals and incorporates mindfulness, meditation, and breathing techniques along with cognitive behavioral therapy. It is proven to work well depression, anxiety disorder, anger, and overall stress. Mindfulness therapy can be done in a group or individual format. It has a high success rate and is usually a short-term treatment as it works rapidly to build new neural pathways to bypass old, painful habit patterns. Clients will learn how their minds work and how to not believe all of their thoughts.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy: Solution Focused Brief Therapy focuses on finding solutions for current-day problems and can help a client formulate and reach future goals. Goal setting is at the root and the therapist utilizes questions to help hone the direction of the work and outcome. It is often used in conjunction with other therapies.

Strength-Based Therapy: Solution-Based Therapy focuses on a client’s internal strengths to combat low self-esteem and shame issues. The heart of this work is to create a positive mindset despite beliefs the client holds which stem from past messages. Through talk therapy, the client learns to “rewrite” his / her story to create a positive and strength-based view of the self. This can be combined with other forms of therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Clients learn to face and accept past situations, feelings and habit patterns to create the possibility for transmutation and change. It is based on the idea that suffering stems from refusing to accept reality as it is. Once accepted the situation can be reframed to reduce destructive emotions. It can be utilized within other forms of therapy.

Art Therapy: Art Therapy utilizes creative outlets such as painting, clay, or collage to increase understanding of unconscious beliefs and patterns as well as provide an outlet for expression of difficult emotions. This is ideal for the client who is less open to the idea of talk therapy. It can be utilized with children, teens, and adults.

Psychoanalytic Therapy: Talk therapy that utilizes several techniques for analysis of a client’s thoughts and memories. The therapist-patient relationship is key to the healing process. This form of therapy explores childhood and family history. Psychoanalysis tends to involve a longer-term therapeutic commitment. The process requires building trust and opening deeply for best results.

Marriage and Family Therapy: This therapy focuses on the dynamics of family relationships. It addresses behaviors and how the individuals are impacted by the system and how the system is impacted by the individuals. Family dynamics are uncovered to address individual symptoms. This therapy can help with couples’ issues, parenting difficulties, behavioral problems as well as a therapy for anxiety, therapy for depression, therapy for addiction, and eating disorders.

Play Therapy: Ideal for children ages three through twelve as it utilizes play and games to improve and support attachment, access unconscious feelings, and address challenging behaviors. This type of therapy helps to improve a child’s relationships and reduce frustration, and is a great therapy for anxiety and therapy for depression.

Gestalt Therapy: Focuses on the here and now and how the client behaves in the environment. The work may include role-playing to solve habitual issues. It is less focused on content and more focused on the present day, moment-to-moment behaviors.

Animal Assisted Therapy: Canine and equine are the most common forms of this therapy. Designed to reach a client who is not as open to talk-based therapy. Excellent for attachment issues and designed to help with social and emotional issues. It can be very beneficial for children as well as adults.

The above list does not include all available therapy modalities. But once you do the research and decide upon the type of therapy, the next step is to choose a particular therapist that specializes in this area. 

In the next few blogs, I will be discussing questions you can ask when interviewing potential therapists to increase the odds of establishing a successful relationship that will provide the support, encouragement, and container for healing and transmutation.

Margie Ahern
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