Psychotherapy is the most common depression treatment. It is often used in conjunction with medication, lifestyle changes, and other therapies. Because the term “psycho” has a negative connotation, psychotherapy is more commonly known as counseling, talk therapy, or, simply, therapy.
How It Works
Psychotherapy involves a patient or patients talking to a trained professional about their feelings, thoughts, stress, and more. This type of therapy is used for many mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. It can also be used to help troubled relationships, whether they are romantic or family centered.
There are four main psychotherapy formats:
- Single: A patient meets one on one with a therapist.
- Couples: Spouses or partners meet with a therapist. This format most often involves couples that are trying to work out issues within their relationship or couples in which one person is suffering from a mental illness.
- Group: Two or more patients meet with a therapist. Patients are usually suffering after a similar life event (divorce, loss of loved one, etc.) or are battling the same mental illness.
- Family: Whole families or members of families meet with a therapist. This format is designed to help families work through problems that are affecting the group as a whole, such as an inability to resolve conflicts or one or more family members suffering from addiction or mental illness.
State and/or country regulations dictate who may administer therapy. Options include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and a host of other trained professionals.
The goals of psychotherapy include:
- aiding the patient in recognizing traits within himself that may need change
- helping the patient manage a difficult condition, such as depression
- learning the causes of a patient’s depression
- setting realistic expectations for the patient
- exploring the patient’s relationships and experiences
- diffusing stressful situations
- finding healthy ways for the patient to cope and solve problems
Types of Psychotherapy
There are many different types of psychotherapy used to treat depression. Some of these include:
Traditional psychoanalytic treatment is based on the observation that unconscious factors often affect a person’s emotions and behavior. During this treatment, the patient talks about thoughts and feelings, and the therapist analyzes these to determine the unconscious conflicts that are causing problems.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This common type of therapy relies on the belief that your own thoughts determine your feelings and behaviors. Its goal is to identify negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and replace them with healthy ones.
Problem-Solving Therapy (PST)
Problem-solving therapy is a type of CBT specifically designed to help a person through stressful life experiences, such as loss or unexpected changes. It aims to help patients adopt an optimistic view of the role of emotions and learn how to reduce psychological stress in response to change.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships and the roles the patient plays in them. Although the principles of IPT do not suggest depression is caused by relationships, the therapy addresses how conflicts, disputes, and transitions between people can affect depression.
This type of therapy delves into a patient’s unconscious psyche to help alleviate internal tension. It mainly focuses on inappropriate adjustment to stress or conflict.
Also called Rogerian therapy or the humanistic approach, person-centered therapy is designed to give patients a comfortable, empathetic environment in which they can develop their own solutions. Rather than being an objective counselor, the therapist is seen more as subjective part of the journey toward the patient’s self-actualization.
This type of therapy is based on the theory that a person’s identity is shaped by experiences in his or her life in social, cultural, and political contexts. Those experiences make up a story or narrative. The therapist works with the patient to enrich his or her story with parts that aren’t correlated with the issue being directly dealt with in therapy. The goal is to help the patient realize that life is not a single story but multistoried and that the problem at hand does not define the patient.
Also known as creative arts therapy, this style involves using art, dance, music, or writing to help patients express their emotions. Unlike other types of art therapy, the emphasis is on the creative process, not the final product.