Improving your emotional wellbeing and increasing your mental fitness can seem like a daunting task. There is so much information out there to sift through and consider. Here we take a look at some of the options, from types of therapies to the types of professionals you might come across.
These are qualified medical doctors, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They can prescribe psychiatric medication. Although many psychiatrists have also received some training in psychotherapy and counselling skills, the way they understand and approach their patients is more focused on ’cause and cure’ rather than building a deeper therapeutic relationship.
They study behaviour and mental processes. A psychologist usually means someone who has a degree in psychology, but legally anyone can call themselves a psychologist. They administer and interpret psychological tests and assessments and help you choose the type of therapy that best addresses the person’s problem and best fits the patient’s characteristics and preferences.
Counsellors & Psychotherapists
These will have training in both the theory and practice of how to work with a variety of people with a wide range of emotional distress and whose lives may be affected by both external factors (job loss, bereavement) and internal issues (low self-esteem, anxiety).
They are closely related and the skills and knowledge needed are very similar. Counsellors are somewhat more likely to do shorter-term work focusing on particular problems such as addiction and bereavement, while psychotherapists often encourage a deeper, longer term and more fundamental process of change in clients who seem to require it.
Coaches are future based focus to move you from where you are, closer to where you want to be. A coach may visit the past to help create a path into the future. They are not a subject expert, but rather focused on helping someone to unlock their own potential. Generally, coaching is better suited for someone with an overall sense of ‘balance’ in their life to create momentum for change.
Different types of therapies available
There are 100’s (if not more) of these, but here are a few to get you started on considering what type to choose.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
The most common form of therapy on NHS. It aims to help you change the way you think (cognitive) and what you do (behaviour). Rather than looking at past causes, it focuses on current problems and practical solutions to help you feel better now.
Your therapist will help you identify and challenge any negative thinking so you can deal with situations better and behave in a more positive way. CBT can be helpful for depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, obsessions, eating disorders and managing long term conditions.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, or tactile stimulation, or sound, which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain releasing emotional experiences that are “trapped” in the nervous system. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.
EMDR allows a client to process an emotional experience that he/she cannot yet talk about, yet following a EMDR session find an ability to talk about it freely. Most importantly, it can eliminate stress surrounding the traumatic event, with the purpose of allowing new life in the once traumatized and emotionally difficult memory.
This approach focuses on the individual as a whole. It encourages people to think about their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. The emphasis is on self-development and achieving your highest potential rather than on problematic behaviour. Gestalt therapy, person-centred therapy, transactional analysis and transpersonal therapy are all types of humanistic approaches.
Derived from the German for ‘whole’ or ‘pattern’. It looks at the individual as a whole, and within their surroundings, rather than breaking things into parts. Practitioners help you to focus on the here and now and your immediate thoughts, feelings and behaviour to better understand how you relate to others and to situations. This can help you find a new, positive perspective on problems and bring about changes in your life. Gestalt therapy often includes acting out scenarios and dream recall, and is effective in treating issues such as anxiety, stress, addiction, tension and depression.
Integrative therapy is a progressive form of psychotherapy that combines different therapeutic tools and approaches to fit the needs of the individual client. With an understanding of normal human development, an integrative therapist modifies standard treatments to fill in development gaps that affect each client in different ways. By combining elements drawn from different schools of psychological theory and research, integrative therapy becomes a more flexible and inclusive approach to treatment than more traditional, singular forms of psychotherapy.
Neuro — Linguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP combines cognitive behavioural and humanistic therapies with hypnotherapy. It works on the theory that life experiences, from birth onwards, programme the way you see the world. Practitioners help you to discover how you have learnt to think or feel so that you can take control of your actions. They will also look at your successes, so you can use these to develop further successful skills and behaviours. NLP is generally used as an additional way of working with other types of therapy rather than on its own, although is increasingly common in coaching.
Person or client-centred therapy is based on the view that everyone has the capacity and desire for personal growth and change, given the right conditions. Rather than being seen as the expert and directing the therapy, the counsellor offers unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence (genuineness) to help you come to terms with any negative feelings and to change and develop in your own way.
This is based on the work of Sigmund Freud, who believed that psychological problems are rooted in the unconscious mind. Experiences from a person’s past can influence thoughts, emotions and behaviour in later life. The analyst will encourage you to talk about your experiences and use techniques such as free association or dream analysis to identify repressed feelings or conflicts that are affecting you now. Bringing these to the front of your mind allows any negative feelings to be dealt with.
A comprehensive approach which incorporates aspects of humanistic, cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic therapy. It categorises the human personality into three states — Parent, Adult and Child — which can help you understand how you interact with others.
Therapists also look at how your beliefs and the way you interpret the world around you can create recurrent and problematic patterns of behaviour, and will work with you to help you to change.
Describes any form of counselling or therapy which places an emphasis on spirituality, human potential or heightened consciousness. There is a focus on free will, self-determination, and the search for meaning — often centering on you rather than on the symptom. The approach emphasizes your capacity to make rational choices and to develop to your maximum potential.
Types of Coaching
Like the field of therapy, there are a variety of techniques and styles. Some representative styles are the following:
Works with an individual, typically over three months, to empower them to make, meet and exceed both personal and professional goals. The focus is largely on the future and understanding what steps are need to overcome obstacles leading to fulfilment. Life coaches hold clients accountable to their actions and are trained to what type of motivation works best for you.
A one to one relationship with someone in an organisation who has a strong position of influence, usually a CEO or other senior level staff. The coaching is contracted for the benefit of a client who is accountable for highly complex decisions with wide scope of impact on the organisation and industry as a whole. The coaching is usually focused on organisational performance or development, but it may also serve a personal component as well.
Similar to an executive coach, a business coach focuses on the process used to take a business from where it is now to where the business owner wants it to be. A business coach will assist and guide the business owner in growing their business by helping them clarify the vision of their business and how it fits in with their personal goals.
Aims to bring the persons into contact with what matters in life and helps to encounter themselves and others better. This includes looking at what has value, appears to be right and has meaning to them. This approach is useful for when someone may be experiencing some type of ‘life crisis’ and explores central themes including existence, fulfilment, consent, freedom, responsibility and meaning.
Like we said, there’s simply tons more we could add, certainly to the types of therapies available. We’ll continue to update this post, so check back for more soon!