If you are thinking of starting professional therapy, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number and types of therapeutic options out there. Some therapies are designed to treat specific conditions and other approaches can address a range of issues.
Dr. Jayme Albin, a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in New York, says there are many things to consider when choosing the right therapeutic intervention for yourself. The most important factor in any therapeutic interaction, according to Dr. Albin, is that you find a trained mental health professional. The bond and trust you form with a therapist in the first few meetings is critical to forming the necessary “alliance” for true breakthroughs.
The dynamics of each appointment will depend on which therapy you choose and the challenges you are looking to overcome. Do you want to talk through your issues or explore your emotions? Or would you rather channel your creative energies to work through your feelings? Other factors Albin suggests considering include the types of therapy available locally, the time investment you are willing to make (a few sessions versus long-term interactions), and your expectations.
Therapy isn’t meant to be easy, regardless of the selected approach. Discussing feelings and fears, personal thoughts and anxieties, doesn’t come easily to most people. But this gets easier and more palatable over time.
Dr. Jayme Albin says that most mental health professionals apply techniques from a variety of therapies. They all will involve working through painful events, hostile memories, or distressing thoughts. It can be hard at first, but the end result is worth it: a happier, healthier, more productive you.
CBT, for example, involves identifying patterns of thought and behavior and modifying them so they don’t negatively affect your life. Albin explains that it is not a therapy that focuses on the past, but rather on current and existent symptoms and making concrete and immediate changes. There is homework to be done and practice you’ll need to commit to. Psychodynamic therapy, in contrast, pays attention to your past, from as early as childhood, and recurring dreams. Albin says it is a much longer-term therapy and necessitates a lot of in-person interactions.
When making the determination of which therapy (or therapist) is right for you, it is useful to take advice from your healthcare provider. Your primary care physician is likely to have advice about the right therapy for you and your specific needs. There is no shame in trying one therapeutic approach and switching to another if necessary.
Remember that there is no “best” psychotherapeutic solution. Every person needs to find the right method that suits them. Dr. Albin also reminds patients that therapy is different at every age; therapeutic channels for children vary significantly than those for adults. Each mental health condition has appropriate remedies. Consider the effectiveness of each option and the desired outcome. Be open and receptive to the therapeutic experience to ensure maximum results.