We just had World Mental Health Day on October 10th which is a day set aside to educate people about the importance of taking care of their mental health and to reduce the social stigma attached to it. As part of that educative process it is important that people understand that there are lots of different mental health therapies that are available to treat many different mental health issues. These do not have to be earth shattering or extremely debilitating problems before you seek out help with them, the recent admission of Selena Gomez for a little “check in” to help her deal with some issues she is having shows that the right approach is to deal with these issues as they arise rather than waiting till they become significant problems. With that in mind I am going to give you a brief rundown of the types of therapies available to help you cope with any mental health issues you or your loved ones may be having.
One of the newest forms of therapy that has been getting very good results is Positive Existential Therapy or PET as pioneered by the Naya Clinics. It is a therapy whose philosophical underpinning are the existentialist tradition of european philosophy and focuses on concepts that are universally experienced such as death, freedom, responsibility and the meaning of life. Instead of seeing anxiety and depression as mental illness it views that as a natural part of life that can be dealt with by emphasising the individuals freedom and responsibility to facilitate higher meaning and well being in their life. It has a proven record of being useful in treating postpartum depression, marriage therapy and life coaching among other things.
In many ways PET is a reaction to the shortcomings of another school of therapy that has a wide following, namely Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT seeks to change people’s behaviour by challenging and changing cognitive distortion (thoughts, beliefs and attitudes). It is a problem focused and action oriented form of therapy that is based on the principles of behavioural and cognitive psychology. It focuses on overcoming thought distortions and maladaptive behaviour by using coping therapies such as information processing skills. It has been used to successfully treat PTSD, substance abuse and eating disorders as well as in combination with drug therapies has been used to treat OCD and psychotic disorders and is the recommended frontline treatment for most children’s and youths disorders.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy is an attachment focused psychotherapy that is distinctive by its time limited approach. Originally called high contact therapy is was developed at Yale University in the 1970’s as a treatment method for depression. It is now used to treat a variety of disorders including Bulimia and Bipolar Disorder. It focuses on interpersonal sensitivity and is based on Attachment theory and Interpersonal Theory. The aim is to help patients by improving their interpersonal communication skills and develop social support networks. Along with CBT it is the most common form of therapy for mental health professionals in the United States to be trained in.
The last form of psychotherapy is the one that most people would recognize from Hollywood movies. It is called Psychodynamic Therapy and is based on the idea that most emotional problems are caused by unresolved unconscious conflicts from childhood. The goal of this therapy is for people to gain a greater understanding and cope better with their feelings by talking about their experiences. It works by exploring feeling that sometimes the patient is not even aware of by making the unconscious part of their emotional life part of their present. It is philosophically based on Freudian psychoanalysis and unlike structured approaches like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy it tends to be free flowing and open ended. Originally developed to treat depression it is now used to help patients to better understand the unconscious beliefs that drive behaviors as well as developing psychological resources and a much greater capacity for dealing with psychological issues that have caused them emotional suffering.
Whichever treatment you think would be a good fit for any of the mental health issues you may be having understand that it is perfectly normal to have these issues and the most responsible thing you can do is attempt to deal with while they are small before the have a chance to grow into much more debilitating issues. Attitudes have changed and people are not going to think less of you because you utilizes the help of mental health professionals to overcome issues you may be having. The first step to getting well is to admit you have a problem that needs help and seeking out that help. It is in its own way an act of love not just for yourself but also to those that love you. Don’t hesitate to seek it out if you think you might need it.