So, you need a little extra support right now. Just recognising that fact is a huge step. While looking for the right therapist can seem overwhelming, don’t sweat—this post is here to help.
Did you know that there are actually a number of different kinds of therapy? Depending on the problems you’re facing, you might benefit from one therapy more than the next, and it can be helpful to look for a therapist who is knowledgeable in an approach that will help you.
Some therapy approaches are particularly well-validated, which means that controlled treatment studies have found them to be effective. To get you started, we’ve broken down it down by a few common reasons why people seek therapy.
Annie has always struggled with anxiety, but she has always seemed to manage OK. Lately, however, she feels like she’s constantly worrying about things, and it’s really starting to interfere with her day-to-day activities. She thinks it might be time to start seeing a therapist, and she’s right!
If this resonates with you, or you’re experiencing debilitating anxiety about something specific (e.g., you’re avoiding social situations, you panic before presentations, or you rely on elaborate routines—like counting or touching specific objects—to calm you down), then you might benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, as it’s commonly called.
CBT is a type of therapy that helps to identify and address the links between your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Using this modality, a therapist will help you reassess unhelpful thoughts that are contributing to your anxiety.
Greg is an elderly man who just lost his wife of 48 years. He misses her immensely, is frequently tearful, and is so overwhelmed by sadness that he often doesn’t get out of bed until the afternoon.
It’s normal to feel sad after a loss; however, if your grief is getting in the way of your ability to perform your usual activities, or you just feel like you need additional support, you could benefit from Counselling. Counselling gives you a safe space to explore your emotions and feelings. Session cans last up to six sessions or be long term such as for a year or more this can help with more deep rooted problems. Short-term therapy can be useful for patients who know what they would like to discuss.
In counselling, you will focus on unpacking your emotions and talking about your relationships with others in your life, with the aim of shoring up your social support resources. To reduce stigma, depression is treated as an illness, rather than something that is the patient’s fault. And counselling does not just work well for the elderly: It has been shown effective in treating (and even preventing!) postpartum depression and other forms of depression at different times across the lifespan.
Desmond is at university. While he was excited to start his education at the university he’s always dreamed of attending, he’s been feeling extremely moody. He always feels exhausted, never wants to go out with friends, and has started skipping classes. Signs point to depression, and Desmond would benefit from a number of different therapies.
If you are feeling depressed like Desmond, you might benefit from Behavioural Activation (BA). Behavioural activation, which can be included as a component of CBT or as a stand-alone treatment, uses a “fake it ‘till you make it” approach. A therapist taking a behavioural activation approach will help you identify patterns and understand why you’re avoiding certain activities (e.g., Desmond and his therapist would talk about why he’s not spending time with friend or attending classes). The therapist guides you in targeting those behaviours (e.g., Desmond would commit to going to a social event even if he didn’t feel like it) and tracking your activities and moods.
Tommy just got back from a six-month deployment with the army. While on duty, he was in active combat and injured an enemy soldier. Tommy is having flashbacks about this event and feels extensive guilt.
Tommy, as well as anyone else experiencing symptoms of PTSD, which can be sparked from a number of different experience (e.g., experiencing assault or sexual violence, being in a car accident, witnessing a violent death, terrorist attacks), can benefit from Cognitive Beavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT works by helping individuals better understand their emotions about the trauma, in part by helping them to share their story of the trauma and work through it with the help of a therapist. This helps take away some of the power of memories and flashbacks. At the end of this therapy, some individuals even feel that the trauma they experienced contributed to their individual growth.
If any of these cases resonated with you, consider asking for a therapist who is knowledgeable in one of the therapeutic methods we’ve talked about.
If you’ve been referred to someone already, ask them about their therapeutic approach and how they see it aligns with your needs. Many therapists are knowledgeable in a number of different methods and are trained on how to choose the most appropriate approach for each individual and his or her presenting problems. No matter what, don’t be afraid to ask about their approach!
Not everyone’s issue will look like those we’ve outlined above. Each individual’s story is different, and the therapies we’ve talked about can work for a variety of problems. So even if your story is different, therapy can still help you.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and if you wouldn’t treat a stomach bug with cold medicine, then you shouldn’t treat depression with trauma treatment. Make sure you find the therapy that is right for your needs!
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