For some people, therapy is a big scary word. For some it is new age nonsense. For others, it is a sign of weakness. Many of our grandparents and parent went years not talking about what they felt and thought, they did not process their feelings and emotions, and as they say ‘they turned out just fine.’ But despite this thought process, there has been a rise in people who attend psychotherapy, particularly among more recent generations- millennials and Gen Z as the stigma regarding therapy in North America has significantly reduced.
Psychotherapy is an umbrella term used by psychologists to describe different forms of talk therapy. In mainstream media and culture, when individuals refer to ‘therapy,’ this is generally what they are talking about. In a psychotherapy session, the patient, and the therapist work together to process feelings of distress and change maladaptive attitudes and behaviours. They work to find new, better ways to cope with difficult thoughts and emotions.
A therapist is a mental health professional who works with clients to help get to the root of a problem. Why are you lashing out at anyone who tries to get close to you? Why do you run away and avoid when things get difficult? They work with you to see the impact your feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions have on yourself and others. When something needs to change, they help by providing tools for you to use throughout difficult emotions and situations.
Coping skills are a term used widely in therapy, they are anything and everything one can use to help navigate and deal with negative emotions and experiences. For example, if you have had a bad day, you didn’t get that promotion at work, or your boss unfairly singled you out for something you had no control over. Maybe you had an argument with a friend? What do you do to deal with these issues? Some people may take a relaxing bath to wash away the day, others journal or draw. Some meditate. With the help of a therapist, you can learn and find the best coping skill for you; something that allows you to deal with the issue, without avoiding it or burying it.
A lot of these skills might be natural to some. The therapist can help find the best one for you. For other people, who might be using coping mechanisms that hurt them more than they help, a therapist might be able to help find new and better ways to deal with issues.
Relationships can be difficult, and sometimes it can be hard to tell our impact on a relationship or in a moment, is it a negative or positive impact? Do you get mad quickly, snap at the person you care for; bury your feelings, never letting them see the light of day, and letting them fester? Therapy can be a great idea in these circumstances. The therapist will be able to provide new skills to clients based on their personal communication styles. For example, within a couple, they can help by pointing out the different communication styles and then work with the couple to find the best way to communicate effectively- helping to avoid a lot of anger, sadness and pain that might have resulted from a lack of understanding each other.
Psychotherapy can be done by individuals, couples, families and in large groups of people who are dealing with similar issues. In individual therapy, people, be it children or adults, work one on one with a trained therapist to focus on personal struggles, identify the areas of their lives they struggle with, what out of that they wish to change and then set goals to try and work towards the things they want to change alongside their therapist. In this form of therapy, the client must work alongside the therapist to make meaningful change. The client has a hand in deciding their needs, what they need to work on, and the best way for them to achieve their end goals.
In comparison to Individual therapy, where the focus is on the one client, family therapy works by having the therapist look at the whole family as a unit, rather than focusing on any one individual. The focus of this type of therapy is on improving the relationships between the members by focusing on members communication and interactions with each other and allowing everyone to speak their mind in a safe and non-judgemental manor. The therapist acts as an objective third party looking in, they help by asking questions and getting everyone’s perspective on the issue, what the issue us, and how everyone is dealing with the issue.
This therapy works is often turned to when there is
-Strained relationship between family members,
-Stress and anger,
-Issues with communication,
-Grief due to divorce, illness or death.
Additionally, when one family member is dealing with Eating disorders, Substance Abuse, OCD or other Anxiety disorders, Depression and personality disorders such as bipolar or borderline.
For couples who are experiencing issues, there is couples therapy. Again, the therapist acts in a non-judgemental manner, creating a safe space for both parties to voice their issues, and their respective sides in the issue. In order to do this, the therapist must avoid taking sides in the issue, but rather help each individual communicate to the other, and listen to the others point of view until both parties are able to come to an agreement, or at least some common ground.
The last type of therapy is group therapy. In group, individuals dealing with the same type of issues come together to talk about and support each other as they try to overcome the problem together. As they work together, it reduces the sense of loneliness and isolation; they are not the only ones dealing with such issues. Other people have faced this problem before, struggled with it, and continue to struggle with it everyday. This can be very helpful for people dealing with substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Additionally, it can be very beneficial for people dealing with loss, illness or other challenges; for example, trouble parenting, mental health challenges with a family member or physical problems such as chronic pain.
If you are interested in counselling, our team of therapists can help you. Reach out at inneroak.ca.
If you are looking for a provider near you, check out these websites to find a therapist who is right for you.
Written by Alisha Khanduja