How To Get The Most Out Of Therapy
Therapy can be a great way to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. But sometimes, it can also be a waste of time and money. So how can you tell whether therapy is working for you?
There are two main types of psychotherapy: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors, whereas IPT focuses on improving relationships between patients and therapists.
A strong support network helps. Psychotherapy works better when you talk through your problems with someone you trust.
Talking about your feelings can reduce your stress level and help you understand your emotional reactions.
In addition, finding supportive friends and family members who care about your health can benefit your overall well-being.
Choose The Right Therapist
To choose the right therapist, be sure you understand your diagnosis and treatment options. For example, what type of therapy does she use?
Does he work on an individual basis or in groups? Has he treated other patients like you? While it can be difficult to pinpoint all of these things at first, they will become more apparent as time goes by.
What Type Of Therapist Should I See?
To figure out what type of therapist to see, ask yourself some questions. How much money do you need to spend? Do you expect immediate results?
Would you prefer to work with someone specializing in anxiety disorders or depression?
How Can I Get Help?
The best treatment option depends on what causes your anxiety disorder, age, and other factors. Contact your local mental health center if you feel you could benefit from counseling.
There are two main options: Inpatient and outpatient.
An inpatient stay takes place in a hospital where people receive medical attention 24 hours a day. You’ll be prescribed medication during such a stay and undergo group sessions.
You won’t have to worry about your home or children while you’re receiving care. Furthermore, you usually pay for an inpatient stay as a fee upfront.
Treatment varies depending on the provider. Some providers charge hourly fees; others charge per session. Typically, you’ll pay less if you go to a large facility with multiple staff members.
Outpatient care requires fewer resources than an inpatient stay. Sessions take place at private facilities. Depending on the provider, they typically last between 15 minutes and 90 minutes.
Your therapist meets with you once each week during treatment.
These sessions are often followed by phone calls. You don’t have to leave your house to participate. However, you may require medication or additional appointments before beginning treatment in some cases.
Payment plans vary by provider.
Talk Therapy Vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Talk therapy focuses on helping individuals understand their own problems, emotions, and beliefs. Talking through these issues helps individuals develop coping strategies that will lessen future anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy targets specific behaviors and thought patterns associated with anxiety. By identifying negative thought processes, clients are encouraged to focus on realistic solutions to their problems.
DBT therapy is based on the idea that anxious feelings stem from unrealistic expectations about personal control in a situation. It teaches patients ways to cope more effectively with stress and everyday life.
DBT is an evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders, including panic attacks. Research shows that this type of therapy helps reduce symptoms like panic attacks and depression and prevent relapse.
Testing is one-way psychologists use to better understand a patient’s unique mental condition.
For example, testing might involve personality testing, cognitive abilities tests, or other measures designed to assess the effectiveness of various treatments.
Opening Up To A Therapist
To find a therapist specializing in treating people with anxiety disorders, visit an accredited website listing therapists. It’s helpful to know what kind of counseling you want before beginning.
For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people learn new ways of thinking about their problems and no longer think negatively or catastrophize.
CBT teaches them coping skills, which means they don’t believe negative thoughts or make unrealistic predictions about the future. Instead, they look at their situation objectively and change unwanted behaviors or habits.
They are taught to identify unhelpful beliefs and develop realistic expectations for themselves and others. Some people prefer to talk to a counselor only once every few months or year to discuss issues they would rather keep private.
Others may feel comfortable speaking to a counselor regularly, weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even daily.
Therapists should keep the information confidential unless there has been a legal problem or danger to another person.
The American Psychological Association recommends that therapists disclose personal information only when necessary to protect a client from severe harm or when required by law.
This includes disclosing all the necessary information to report child abuse or neglect, informing social services of possible illegal activity, notifying appropriate authorities of a threat to public safety, or alerting police of suspicious behavior.
Get A Second Opinion
If you’re dissatisfied with the care you’ve received at your last appointment, tell your therapist. Then, find a second opinion from a new therapist, or try a different approach.
For example, your therapist may recommend seeing a colleague, taking a class, moving to another location, or changing the way you practice.
How To Tell Whether Therapy Might Not Work For You
Therapy can be very effective at helping people overcome issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. But it can also be expensive, and some therapies don’t seem to be working.
So how can you tell if treatment is working for you, and how can you maximize its benefits? Here are three ways that therapy might not be working for you.
Therapy may not work because your problems are mild. Suppose you have minor issues like insomnia or relationship difficulties.
In that case, they may be best resolved by taking medication instead of getting professional help. In other words, the pain isn’t severe enough to warrant further treatment.
The good news is that milder issues often resolve themselves without any intervention.
It’s challenging to know what constitutes “mild.” Still, you could ask yourself whether your symptoms affect your daily life in a meaningful way.
Are you unable to function well at school, work, home, or even around friends? A therapist might evaluate your situation and determine whether you really need professional assistance.
Therapy may not work because your therapist doesn’t understand the nature of your problem.
Your therapist should listen when talking about why you’re seeking treatment, so pay attention to their explanations of your issues and responses to them.
If your therapist seems confused or dismissive, consider finding someone else to see. You want a therapist who will provide clear answers to your questions about yourself and your situation.
Therapy may not be working because you aren’t willing to change. Some people make changes only after they experience serious consequences of their behavior.
For example, if you smoke every day, it typically takes repeated failures before you stop smoking completely.
Even then, you may still crave cigarettes occasionally. Similarly, you may feel depressed one week and happy another. This may suggest that your mood is influenced more by external factors than by your own actions.
Your therapist may have been using ineffective techniques. Sometimes therapists use methods based on outdated theories about human development. But these approaches may actually hinder progress rather than enhance it.
For instance, many therapists believe that children must wait until they become older adults before experiencing true happiness.
Perhaps this belief stems from Freudian psychology, which held that we mature over time into healthier adults.
However, research shows that childhood emotions persist throughout adulthood. Therefore, trying new therapeutic strategies is worthwhile, especially when they show promise.
Anxiety Disorder Causes And Symptoms
Many forms of psychotherapy help reduce feelings of anxiety. Counseling can be done one-on-one with a professional psychologist or psychiatrist.
Psychotherapy can also occur in a supportive setting with others who share similar emotional challenges. In addition, certain medications prescribed by doctors can help reduce anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders Cost And Treatment Options
You should think about costs before choosing a doctor. Most insurance plans cover counseling and medication. However, not all therapists accept insurance coverage.
Therefore, it’s advisable to look into the cost of your potential counselor ahead of time so that you can make decisions based on financial considerations rather than emotion.
Anxiety Stress Management Techniques
The best ways to manage anxiety include relaxation training and cognitive restructuring. Relaxation training involves learning skills that decrease tension.
For example, you can learn breathing exercises, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, massage, or acupuncture to relax tense muscles.
Other techniques include using imagery such as guided visualization to create pleasant thoughts and positive images.
Medication For Mental Health Help
Medications can be helpful if used correctly and monitored carefully. They usually won’t cause unpleasant side effects. Many prescription drugs have proven effective for treating anxiety disorders.
Examples include benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), antidepressants (like Prozac or Zoloft), antianxiety medications (such as Buspar), and antihypertensives (like Ativan).
Talk to your pharmacist about which medicine is best suited for you. It often helps to combine therapy with medication.
The Importance of Exercise to Health & Well-Being
To get the most out of your therapy sessions, you need to combine this with complementary wellbeing practices.
Exercise can promote weight loss, increase lean muscle mass, strengthen bones, reduce blood pressure, and improve sleep.
In addition, it can prevent type 2 diabetes and protect against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke, and dementia.
Exercise makes us healthier and happier! Several types of exercise can improve our physical and mental health.
These include cardiovascular exercise (walking/running), resistance training (lifting weights), flexibility training (yoga/Tai Chi), balance training (such as tai chi), stretching exercises, and body toning exercises such as calisthenics or jumping rope.
This exercise burns calories and raises your pulse rate for 30 minutes or longer. Cardiovascular exercise also improves fitness, endurance, stamina, strength, and coordination.
Regular exercise at least three times per week for 20-30 minutes a session is recommended.
Examples include brisk walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, aerobics, jogging, tennis, basketball, soccer, volleyball, badminton, squash, and baseball.
Weight lifting and resistance band training are excellent forms of resistance training. Lifting weights increase muscular strength, size, and tone while improving bone density.
Resistance bands have proven beneficial in strengthening muscles and joints, reducing back pain, and increasing range of motion.
Most gym equipment can train the upper limbs, lower limbs, core/abdominal muscles, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, neck, and back.
Yoga and Tai Chi are great examples of flexibility training. Yoga stretches the entire body from head to toe. It includes gentle poses that relax the mind and strengthen the spirit during meditation.
Tai Chi promotes relaxation, concentration, balance, and strength. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be to do yoga poses without strain.
You can practice any number of yoga positions at home by yourself or with a partner. However, suppose you are looking for something more challenging.
In that case, you can join a yoga class where the instructor teaches you postures. In addition, some yoga studios offer classes specifically designed for cancer patients.
Mental health is vital to everyone, and is especially hard to manage for those suffering from anxiety and depression. Those who can afford it should seek help.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just been diagnosed or have had an anxiety disorder for years. A trained professional can provide insight into the problem and help you overcome it.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: September 24, 2023