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Are challenging situations, emotions, and behavior affecting your daily life? Then it would be best if you tried therapy. In a therapy session, one gets to work with a trained counselor. Though there are different counseling approaches, the therapist will select the one that best suits your condition. Here are the four major counseling approaches you are likely to encounter in therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy stems from psychoanalysis techniques developed to treat mental health conditions. In psychodynamic therapy, the counselor helps you to explore how your unconscious mind connects with your actions. Also, you analyze how past relationships, including traumatic childhood experiences, affect your current life. Essentially, therapists believe that one can find healing when revealing and bringing such underlying issues to the surface.
The counselor encourages you to talk openly about your thoughts. This way, the therapist can discover your thought patterns and how it contributes to your stress. The therapy sessions also use dream interpretation, where you examine your dreams for crucial subconscious information. Besides, the counselor can use hypnotism and projective tests. Since this approach borrows from psychoanalysis, it is a long-term and intensive treatment. Notably, psychodynamic is effective for treating depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms, and substance disorders.
Behavioral therapy adopts a focused and action-oriented approach to mental health. In addition to treating anxiety and phobia, behavioral therapy addresses substance use and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The critical assumption in the behavioral approach is that you develop behavior from things learned in the past.
In a typical behavioral therapy session, you spend less time talking about your unconscious thoughts. Instead, the focus is usually learning how to change behavioral responses and patterns. The counselor uses aversion therapy, where you learn to associate negative behavior with an unpleasant outcome. Alternatively, the therapist applies flooding and systematic desensitization to help you face your fears.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) holds that certain feelings and beliefs you have about yourself cause distress. Thus, this short-term approach focuses on managing problematic thought patterns. In a typical CBT session, the counselor supports you in identifying thought patterns and how they may negatively affect your normal functioning. Then, you study how to accept and replace such negative thought patterns with rational and helpful thoughts. Notably, the counselor will often assign homework, such as keeping a thoughts journal.
The humanistic approach suggests that you are better suited to understanding your experiences and needs. Therefore, the counselor supports you to understand your experiences and explore how your worldviews affect choices without interpreting your feelings. Broadly, the counselor listens to you and only asks questions to confirm they understand what you are sharing. This approach aims to help you live a fulfilling life by helping you be the best version of yourself. As such, you spend more time learning how to enhance self-acceptance. Notably, the approach is effective in dealing with negative judgment from others.
Ultimately, deciding on which approach to commit to can be overwhelming. Fortunately, your counselor will provide the diagnosis and recommend effective therapy techniques.