There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about mental health. We understand better than ever before how important it is to our well-being. Therapy can be a life-changing decision when you want to improve your mental health. Several types of therapies are available. What’s the best choice for you?
We asked Joseph Farris, MD, at the OhioHealth Physician Group in Marion to help us sort it out.
When should I consider therapy?
Dr. Farris says that anytime is a good time to consider therapy. Of course, if you are experiencing a lot of sadness, stress, anxiety, depression or fear, therapy is a good idea. Dr. Farris also thinks you can improve your overall wellness with therapy during good times. He says, “We can do great work at times of no stress. Sometimes it’s better to work on your own troubles instead of focusing on life’s troubles.”
How do I find a therapist?
Dr. Farris recommends starting with your primary care doctor. Most doctors have a list of mental health professionals they like to refer to patients. Your doctor knows your medical history and can help you decide what kind of therapist you need. You can also ask people you trust for their recommendations. Or, ask your insurance company for names of therapists near you.
What are the most common types of therapy?
Most mental health patients are treated with one of these forms of therapy:
Psychodynamic therapy supports the idea that talking about your problems can help you reach solutions. As you talk it out with your therapist, you can better understand the thoughts, feelings and conflicts contributing to your behavior.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you recognize specific triggers that cause negative feelings so you can learn to change your reactions to those triggers. CBT is often used for patients with depression or anxiety.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) treats obsessive-compulsive or borderline personality disorders. The four principles of DBT are mindfulness, interpersonal skills, stress tolerance and emotional regulation. These principles help patients manage their disorders in a healthier way.
Exposure response prevention (ERP) treats phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Under a therapist’s care, patients expose themselves to situations that make them fearful or anxious. With each session, triggers become less important, and fears are reduced.
Are there other therapies available?
Some other less common or newer types of therapy include:
Psychoanalysis is a form of in-depth talk therapy that brings your unconscious thoughts and fears forward so you can deal with them. It’s not practiced much anymore because it takes a lot of time and commitment.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a newer therapy for patients who have experienced trauma. It reconnects you to the images and emotions associated with the trauma while you focus on something concrete, like your therapist’s finger movements. This allows your brain to reprocess the trauma and find acceptance.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses short magnetic pulses to stimulate the nerves in your brain that regulate mood and emotions. It is often used to treat therapy-resistant depression.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is also used to treat severe depression. ECT stimulates your brain with electricity and causes a small seizure. This seizure reduces depression symptoms.
Who can provide therapy?
Several professionals can provide therapy, including social workers, licensed social workers (LISW), licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCC), licensed marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists.
While the above professionals can provide mental health services, they have different levels of education and experience. The state of Ohio sets the requirements for all mental health licensures. For example, an LPCC must have a master’s degree and two years of experience. A licensed therapist must supervise most unlicensed counselors as they see patients. Also, only a psychiatrist may prescribe medication.
How do I know what kind of therapy I need?
Reading about the different kinds of therapy is a great first step. Do your research before you talk to your doctor, so you are familiar with your options. Be open and honest with your doctor about your thoughts and feelings. There may be several types of therapy appropriate for your situation. Together you can decide the best treatment for you.
No matter what road you decide to take, you are not alone. In 2020, around 41.4 million American adults received mental health treatment. We can safely assume even more have sought treatment since then. Dr. Farris said it best, “Don’t be fearful of therapy. There is no stigma in going to therapy anymore.”
OhioHealth offers all of the most common types of mental health therapy. If you need help, make an appointment to talk to your primary care doctor today. Your mental health is too important to ignore.