If you are suffering or suspect you are suffering from a mental illness, then going to see a therapist is key to your recovery. However, there are many different types of therapy and different types of therapist.
Choosing the most suitable therapist for your needs may overwhelm you to the point where you simply give up your search.
When you initially begin to learn about therapy, you will be met with many terms you are likely to be utterly unfamiliar with. For instance, what is meant by ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ and how does this differ from ‘psychodynamic’ therapy?
These terms may be helpful for professional therapist, but often they only serve to alienate and put off those who may ultimately benefit from them.
The good news is that it is not too difficult to understand the different sorts of therapy, and in this guide, we aim to offer you just enough information to allow you to select the type of therapy and therapist that’s most suitable to your specific needs. We feel this approach helps to arm you with the necessary information whilst avoiding the risk of you becoming overwhelmed.
Before you begin to learn about different types of therapy, it’s important to analyse what you expect to get out of therapy. Analysing your needs helps you to match these needs up with the benefits offered by each particular therapy type.
Narrow your search by location
If you search any of the main therapist directories, you will be able to filter therapists who are easily accessible in your location. There is no point travelling more than 30 miles in order to see a specific therapist unless the therapist in question offers some sort of specialist service that is not available in your local area.
Take your time reading therapists’ online profile
Once you locate therapists within your local area, make a cup of tea and slowly read through each therapists’ online profile. Doing so helps you to get a feel about the person behind the qualifications. Remember that therapy is a very personal service, and it’s important that you find somebody who you are able to relate to on a personal level.
You may have a preference for a therapist of a certain sex, age or background. To ensure you make the most suitable choice, ensure you do not rush reading through therapists’ online profile.
Try to figure out your therapy goals
It’s advantageous to know what you expect to get out of therapy. Knowing your goals will be more obvious in certain situations. For instance, if you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, then it’s obvious your objective is to explore the memories that trigger your stress.
Likewise, if you suffer from addiction, your objective will clearly be to stop engaging in whatever that addictive behaviour may be. In other situations, it may be difficult to formulate your therapy goals. This is particularly the case if you are unsure what is causing your mental health issues.
If you fall in this second category, then do not worry. After all, therapists exist to help you better understand the causes of whatever mental health issues you may be experiencing.
Educate yourself on the different therapy approaches
This does not require you to invest hundreds of hours learning about the subtle differences between different therapy approaches. All you must do is try to obtain a vague understanding of each type of therapy.
Doing so will help you to make a more informed decision when selecting a therapist since it’s likely each therapist will specialise in no more than one or two types of therapy.
Below, we offer a brief introduction to the most common types of therapy available today in the United Kingdom:
1. Humanistic therapies
Humanistic therapies are focused on self-exploration. This allows you to discover your own truths that may be covered from your conscious awareness. You are given the belief that you have the ability to find your way back on track to achieve an enriching and satisfying existence.
Humanistic therapies may be both short and long-term in nature. You can literally continue to benefit from humanist therapies for indefinitely. There is no precise beginning or end.
2. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Unlike humanistic therapies, CBT is much short-term in its outlook. An entire CBT programme may be concluded in as many as 5 sessions, although such programmes typically require between 15-20 sessions to complete.
CBT is goal-driven and requires a substantial element of self-examination since the aim is to uncover emotions and beliefs that drive maladaptive actions. CBT will help you to re-programme your thoughts so you are able to live your life with a healthier outlook.
3. Psychoanalytic therapies
Psychoanalytic therapies are much more in-depth and longer-term in nature compared to the therapies mentioned above. When you engage in psychoanalytic therapies, you must be willing to commit months or even years into your recovery.
Psychoanalytic therapies essentially involve looking into your past so that you may uncover buried memories that are subconsciously driving maladaptive behaviours.
Combining therapies: getting the best of both worlds
It’s common for therapists to offer the above therapies integratively. This means the same therapist could offer two or more of these therapies in combination to one another. Doing so helps you to get a feel for which type of therapy is most suited to your needs. For instance, it’s common to mix psychoanalytical therapy with CBT. The former helps you to explore the causes of your mental illness whilst the latter helps you to control the symptoms you are experiencing as a result.
The role of relationship
It’s unarguable that the optimal amount of benefits from therapy will only be achievable if you have established an excellent relationship with your therapist. If the relationship is poor-to-average, it’s unlikely you will achieve long-lasting benefits from the therapy you receive no matter what type of therapy that happens to be.
We conclude that it’s neither the type of therapy nor the therapist’s academic background that counts the most when it comes to the success of your therapy. Instead, the most important success factor is the relationship and bond you are able to build with your therapist.
You will only really know if you are able to bond with your therapist through real-world experience. No matter how much you enjoyed reading a particular therapist’s online profile, nothing of this nature may substitute for in-person therapy sessions.
The good news is that you will know whether you have bonded with a therapist after 3-4 sessions. If you do not feel you are bonding with a particular therapist, then we suggest you look elsewhere. Never discount the importance of your relationship with your therapist when it comes to treatment success.
It’s advantageous to ask for a free in-person or telephone consultation before your treatment begins. This helps you filter out therapists who may obviously be a poor match when it comes to his or her ability to bond with you on a personal level.
It’s advisable to speak with at least 3-4 different therapist so you may establish a point of reference when comparing different therapists.
For your therapy to succeed, you need to trust and feel comfortable in your therapist’s presence. Therapy almost always involves tackling painful memories in your past. If you are uncomfortable in your therapist’s presence, uncovering these painful memories will be all but impossible.
It’s vitally important you are able to communicate with your therapist. Your therapist’s role is to push you to uncover new territories in ways that also help you to maintain a feeling of security. If you are unable to correctly communicate with your therapist for whatever reason, then it’s unlikely your therapist will be able to maintain this delicate balance between mental exploration and security.
Contact us today
For more information on locating an addiction therapist, contact Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690. We specialise in helping you connect with therapists and residential drug and alcohol rehab clinics in your local area.