Having mental health problems? Psychological therapy has probably been recommended to you. There are many types of psychological therapy. Some are more scientific, evidence-based than others. There are also a lot of people who can provide psychological therapy.
In this article, we will look at the different types of psychological therapy and the people that are licensed to practice it. If you are new to psychological therapy, read this article. It gives you all the background you need to find to attain help for your mental health problems.
What is psychological therapy?
Psychological therapy is also called talking therapy and psychotherapy. It is important to keep in mind that not all forms of psychological therapy use talking. However, “talk therapy” is probably its most famous colloquial name.
No matter what name psychological therapy is called, the aims are the same. Counselors using this type of therapy help improve their patient’s mental health through personal interactions. These sessions can occur in person, over the phone, or via the internet. They can also be done in a group setting or with couples.
The type of psychological therapy that you will receive depends on your symptoms and your therapist. Most therapists are familiar with a specific type of psychological therapy. Each type, as described below, is designed to treat different symptoms and underlying issues. Your therapist will help you explore treatment and therapy options for your unique case in your early sessions.
Who needs psychological therapy?
Everyone struggles sometimes. There should be no shame in admitting that you need psychological help. Some specific symptoms and conditions require immediate and long-term psychological treatment. However, most people could use psychological therapy at one time or another. If you are struggling with the following things, it may be helpful to try psychological therapy.
- Grieving the loss of a loved one.
- Excessive anxiety or negative thoughts.
- Phobias that inhibit your quality of life—such as agoraphobia.
- Relationship problems.
- Unhealthy addictions and/or habits.
- Mental disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or PTSD.
Types of psychological therapy
There are a wide variety of psychological therapies. These range in effectiveness and appropriateness for certain conditions. Below we’ve listed the types of psychology therapy you are most likely to encounter.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT) is one of the most common types of psychological therapy today. It is designed to address a patient’s unhealthy thoughts and thought patterns. CBT is a form of talk therapy. During a session, you will focus more on the symptoms you are experiencing and how to change them. You do not prioritize past experiences in CBT.
You may want to consider CBT if you struggle with anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, OCD, insomnia, and mood disorders.
Psychodynamic therapy was invented and popularized by Sigmund Freud. In this type of psychological therapy, you tell the therapist anything that comes into your mind during sessions. The more you talk, the easier it is for the therapist to uncover thought patterns and unconscious desires or problems. Psychodynamic therapy is often a long-term solution for mental health issues.
Psychodynamic therapy is especially good for people with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, somatic problems, and substance use.
In behavioral therapy, you focus on your current thoughts and behaviors and work to change the negative ones. CBT, described above, is a type of behavioral therapy. There are many approaches to behavioral therapy, though. Systematic desensitization, aversion therapy, and flooding are all types of behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy is especially good for people with OCD, phobias, ADHD, anxiety, and other behavioral issues.
Different types of mental health professionals
There are many different providers of psychological therapy. In fact, these people may be licensed or unlicensed. The different titles are used to distinguish each professional’s education and training requirements. One type of mental health professional is not better than another. Some may be better suited to treating your symptoms, though.
Let’s look at the most common types of mental health professionals.
Psychiatrists are medical professionals that hold either an M.D. or an O.D. They can prescribe medication and typically work in a clinical setting.
Psychologists also hold an advanced degree, but they are not medical doctors. Instead, they usually have either a PhD or a PsyD. Psychologists may work in private practices or clinical settings, but in most states, they cannot prescribe medication.
To be a licensed counselor you have to hold a master’s degree in psychology or counseling. They must also complete internships before beginning their own practice. Professional licensed counselors cannot prescribe medication, but they can perform all other aspects of psychological therapy.
Clinical Social Worker
A clinical social worker will have a master’s degree in social work. They also must complete internships before attaining their license. Clinical social works can provide psychological therapy and occasionally (depending on the state) diagnose mental health issues.
A marital or family therapist will hold a master’s degree and specialize in marital and family problems. Often their therapy involves individual and multi-person sessions.
Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor
Counselors have to have a specific license to treat alcohol and drug abuse. They do not need an advanced university degree for this license (a bachelor’s is acceptable), but they do need to have special training in alcohol and drug abuse treatment.
For people that prefer receiving psychological therapy from a religious figure, there are pastoral counselors. These are members of the clergy that provide individual and group counseling. In most places, pastoral counselors are not licensed, therapists.
There is no need for you to struggle with your mental health issues. It doesn’t matter what your symptoms, there are psychological therapies and mental health professionals that can help. Online mental health providers like BetterHelp are now available, which makes getting the help that much easier and more affordable. Don’t suffer in silence, instead make an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor today.