When looking, it is important to know what you want in a therapist. How comfortable do you feel in group settings? Does the gender of the therapist matter to your needs? Do you prefer someone who specializes in anxiety and depression or eating disorders and chronic illnesses? The approach that the therapist takes is also important to understand.
There are infinite ways to approach therapy and there are many theorists that go with each approach. To make things simple, this blog post will summarize a few different types of therapy as well as a few approaches.
There are two main types of therapy, individual and group. Individual therapy focuses solely on the individual and their needs. Group therapy can be beneficial for individuals who need peer support in certain situations such as grief counseling or PTSD counseling.
The most common form of therapy people think of is a style developed by our friend Sigmund Freud called psychoanalytic or psychodynamic theory. This theory looks into the unconscious mind in order to pin point the cause of someone's behavior. He believed that not only your conscious mind makes decisions, but your subconscious and unconscious mind can influence decisions and behaviors as well.
Another common form of therapy is called cognitive therapy. This theory, developed by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, focuses on how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all relate to each other. In short, he believed that by changing the way you think, you can change the way you feel and, therefore, act.
Behavior therapy is also common. Developed by many including Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner. This type of therapy focuses on the learning aspect of how people act and think. For example, Pavlov's dogs were trained to salivate at the sound of a bell through a technique called classical conditioning. Many of us teach our own pets commands using this technique. By positively reinforcing a good, or wanted, behavior with a treat, you can teach your dog to sit when you tell them 'sit.'
These approaches are known as clinical forms of therapy. There are also recreational types of therapy as well including art therapy, animal therapy, music and play therapy. Many of these are focused on individuals with disabilities, however, they can also be of great use for children or individuals with mental illnesses as well.
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