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What, exactly, is psychotherapy?
It's a general term that means talking about your problems with a mental health professional. It can take lots of forms, including individual, group, couples, and family sessions. Often, people see their therapists once a week for 50 minutes. Depending on your situation, treatment can be fairly short or longer-term.
Some people worry that getting help is a sign of weakness. If you do, it is actually the exact opposite. It is actually a sign of great strength to take steps toward getting your life back on track. Talking with a therapist or counselor can help you deal with thoughts, behaviors, symptoms, stresses, goals, past experiences, and other areas that can promote your recovery.
Of course, talking with a therapist about personal issues can be tough, but it can help you come to grips with problems in your life. It can also offer an emotional release and a sense of really being heard, understood and supported.
Therapy can help you to:
Feel stronger in the face of challenges
Change behaviors that hold you back
look at ways of thinking that affect how you feel
Heal pains from the past
Build relationship skills
Figure out your goals
Strengthen your self-confidence
Cope with symptoms
Handle strong emotions like fear, grief or anger
Enhance your problem solving skills
Depending on your situation, therapy can be fairly short or longer-term. Often, people see their therapists once a week for 50 minutes.
Your first session will be different from future visits. The initial visit is more of a "getting to know you" session and will help your therapist get an idea of how to proceed with your treatment.
Therapy may not help you immediately. Over time, though, it can help you develop more coping skills, stronger relationships, and a better sense of yourself.
Getting The Most Out Of Therapy
Therapy likely will work best if there is a partnership between you and the therapist.
Don't just sit there! Take an active part in your sessions.
You can strengthen your therapy in many ways.
Tell your provider your goals for treatment. Think about whether there are certain behaviors or issues you care about most.
Keep an open mind. Be willing to consider new ways of behaving and thinking that might improve the quality of your life. We all resist change, so don't be surprised if you are tempted to quit right before some real changes happen.
Be open and honest. Your therapist can't really help you if you don't share the whole picture. Don't say you're fine if you're not.
Take your therapy home. You might consider keeping a journal or other ways to focus on what you've been discussing in therapy. Think about ways to use ideas from therapy in your daily life.
If the problems in your life are stopping you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference. And if you're having trouble, know that you are not alone: One in four adults in this country have a mental health problem in any given year.
Of course, you don't have to be in crisis to seek help. Why wait until you're really suffering? Even if you're not sure that you'd benefit from help, it can't hurt to explore the possibility.
Most people who seek help feel better. For example, more than 80% of people treated for depression improve. Treatment for panic disorders has up to a 90% success rate.
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