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Why is therapy good for mental health

People with mental health conditions often find psychotherapy-or “talk therapy”-very helpful. The type and length of your therapy will depend on your personal situation and insurance, and your therapy may be part of an overall treatment plan that includes medication or other treatment options.

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

Types of Therapy

What to Expect

Getting the Most Out of Therapy

Types of Therapy

There are many different types of therapy, including those that are most effective with families or groups of people. You can learn about your options by talking with people you trust, like your family doctor or clergy, with people who have experience with mental health conditions, or with staff at your local Mental Health America affiliate.

You might ask therapists you’re considering if they use a particular type of therapy and how it works. You may get more out of therapy if you understand how the process usually works and how the therapist thinks it will help you. Some therapists will blend a few different approaches together to suit your particular needs.

The following are a few common types of therapy:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has two main aspects. The cognitive part works to develop helpful beliefs about your life. The behavioral side helps you learn to take healthier actions. CBT often works well for depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, but it can also be used for other various conditions.
  • Interpersonal therapy focuses largely on improving relationships and helping a person express emotions in healthy ways. This approach often works well for depression. A variation of it called “interpersonal and social rhythm therapy” often works well for bipolar disorder because it also helps develop a daily schedule that supports recovery.
  • Family therapy helps family members communicate, handle conflicts and solve problems better. Forms of family therapy often are used for treating eating disorders and bipolar disorder.
  • Psychodynamic therapy helps people develop a better understanding about their unconscious emotions and motivations that can affect their thoughts and actions.
  • Art therapy can include using music, dance, drawing and other art forms to help express emotions and promote healing.
  • Psychoeducation helps people understand mental health conditions and ways to promote recovery.

For more information on types of therapy visit the National Institute of Mental Health website at

In addition to different types of therapy, each therapist has different amounts and types of training. For example, a psychiatrist is trained in therapy but also has a medical degree and can prescribe medication. A pastoral counselor will include a religious or spiritual approach to treatment. Other therapists may be trained to deal with substance use issues.

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What to Expect

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.

You have a right to feel safe and respected in therapy.  If you’re concerned, you can ask about confidentiality. Usually, though, it’s understood that a therapist respects your privacy; and that group members do too, if you’re meeting in a group. Therapy should address your needs, goals, concerns and desires. If you’re going to be talking to someone about your most personal thoughts, you want to feel comfortable. 

You can think about what traits might make you feel more comfortable with a therapist. For example, would you prefer to see:

  • a man or woman
  • someone older or younger
  • someone from your cultural background
  • someone with a style that’s more formal or friendly

Get additional information about therapy at Psych Central.

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.
  • If you think you’re not making progress, you should tell your provider. A good therapist will want to work with you so you can get the most out of your sessions. After discussing your concerns, if you’re still not comfortable, you might consider meeting with another therapist for advice and possibly switching.
  • 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.

Mental health counseling isn’t just for people who struggle with mental health, but for anyone who has concerns about mental health at any given time. Whether you have stress in your life, problems with a relationship, or anything else that weighs on your mind, you can benefit from mental health counseling.

The counseling process is like an educational experience. The patient learns more about him/herself and gains new skills. Counseling also sometimes includes learning about certain conditions such as depression, eating disorders, and anxiety so that one can understand the treatment options.

What Are The 8 Benefits of Mental Health Counseling?

  1. Improved communication and interpersonal skills
  2. Improved self-acceptance and self-esteem
  3. Capability to change self-defeating behaviors and habits
  4. More suitable expression and management of emotions
  5. Relief from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  6. Greater confidence and decision-making skills
  7. Ability to manage stress more effectively
  8. Improved abilities for problem-solving and conflict resolution

Why You Should See a Counselor

Psychological or personal mental health counseling gives you the chance to talk about social, emotional, or behavioral problems that are causing you concern or interfering with your daily activities.

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There are many reasons for seeking personal or psychological counseling. Some of the most common problems people go for help include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or completing work or academic tasks
  • Family or relationship problems
  • Self-defeating behaviors and habits such as procrastination
  • Issues due to grief and loss
  • Problems with stress-management
  • Coping with traumatic events
  • Domestic violence or sexual assault
  • Depression or lack of motivation
  • Acute panic attacks or anxiety
  • Problems with medication management
  • Anger problems
  • Sexual worries
  • Compulsive behaviors

How Mental Health Counselors Help

It takes a trained, professional mental health counselor, also known as a therapist, to guide you through that journey. Mental health counselors provide an important and necessary system for people who want to recover from eating disorders, gambling, and other behavioral disorders. They build relationships with their patients that aren’t based on trust.

Sometimes just being able to talk about your problem helps you see a solution more clearly. Your counselor is trained to ask certain questions to help you discover a solution on your own. This way, you will have the tools you need to find solutions on your own outside of counseling. Counselors provide support, resources, confidentiality, and judgment-free guidance.

How mental health counseling helps this woman

Common Therapies Used in Mental Health Treatment

Several common evidence-based therapies have proven to be immensely effective. They are used in virtually every treatment program that has experienced, trained counselors to implement them. These are included:

1. Group vs. Individual Therapy

Individual therapy, also called psychotherapy, is a collaborative process between the therapist and the patient. A trained therapist can help you discover the underlying causes of your thoughts and behaviors and make positive lifestyle changes.

Individual therapy can be a great help to you if you have depression, bipolar, or another serious mental health disorder that needs to be treated on its own. Some people find it’s helpful to participate in individual and group therapy.

Group therapy is usually preferred over individual therapy. Therapy sessions typically consist of one or more therapists and 5 to 15 group members. During group therapy, you are more likely to be challenged and supported by your peers in the group.

Group therapy helps you put your problems into perspective. Listening to others regularly helps you speak openly about your issues and realize that you are not the only person with problems.

Observing how the other people in group therapy handle problems and make changes in their lives helps you learn new strategies for your own issues. Many groups are formed to address a certain problem such as depression, chronic pain, or obesity. Still, others are focused on improving social skills.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Basically, CBT is a “talk-therapy” that explores the differences between what you want to do and what you actually do. Nobody wants to develop a behavior disorder. CBT is an effective goal-oriented and short-term treatment that takes a matter-of-fact approach to problem-solving. It is used on a variety of issues.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy highlights the behavior and thought patterns (cognition) the patient has. Using this method the patient begins to understand how their negative thoughts and attitudes directly affect their behaviors.

The goal is to adjust the patterns of thinking or behavior that led to the patient’s problems. This is done by targeting the thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes the patient has and the relationships that have caused them to behave in certain ways to deal with their emotional problems. Once you have identified the relationship between your problems, behavior, and thoughts, you can begin to learn ways to cope and manage your thoughts and emotions during and after treatment.

3. Family Therapy

Family therapy is psychological counseling that helps family members enhance communication skills and resolve conflicts. Relationships are examined as family members try to understand the experiences of all the other members.

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The goal of family therapy is to bring transparency to the relationships and encourage closeness if the members choose to. The most important parts of family therapy are:

  • Engagement—Family engagement interventions typically take place during the first stage of treatment.
  • Reframing relationships—This consists of interventions designed to transition from defining a problem in individual ways to producing solutions based on relationships and understanding.
  • Behavior change—The goal is to shift the behavior of the family members by teaching them new skills and bolstering individual changes in behavior.
  • Restructuring—The goal is to change the way the family system is directed, adjust basic beliefs and family rules.

4. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Initially, DBT was developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). Research subsequently showed that it is effective in treating bulimia, binge-eating, depression, SUD, and bipolar disorder.

DBT is another type of cognitive-behavioral treatment originally to treat BPD. People with BPD typically have extreme, intense, negative emotions that are difficult to manage and frequently appear while interacting with other people, including personal relationships.

Normally, DBT consists of individual therapy sessions with your counselor and DBT skills groups. The therapist keeps you motivated to apply the DBT skills to your everyday life and discuss any problems that might arise during treatment

DBT skills:

Participants in the skills group learn and practice DBT skills, share their experiences, and provide support for the other members. Patients learn to develop the skills necessary to manage their emotions and reduce conflict in relationships. Skills are developed in four areas:

  • Mindfulness—Improving the patient’s ability to be “in the moment.”
  • Distress tolerance—helps improve the patient’s tolerance of negative emotions rather than trying to escape.
  • Regulation of emotion—Learning to manage intense emotions that are causing difficulties.
  • Interpersonal capability—Learning techniques that allow the patient to communicate with others in an assertive manner that maintains self-respect.

5. Contingency Management Therapy (CM)

In this behavioral therapy approach, you receive positive incentives. Patients are “reinforced”, or rewarded for evidence of positive changes in their behavior.

CM is based on principles of basic behavioral analysis. Behavior that is reinforced close to the time it occurred will increase in frequency. Contingency management is used in everyday settings as well as in clinical settings.  It is highly effective for the treatment of behavior disorders. CM interventions can be used in psychiatric treatment to increase abstinence in patients with dual diagnoses and to encourage attendance at mental health treatment sessions.

6. Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that helps you resolve conflicting feelings and insecurities to find the motivation necessary for you to change your behavior. It is a short-term process that recognizes how hard it is to make changes to your life.

It’s often used as a therapy for behavior disorder and management of physical health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. Motivational interviewing helps you change the behavior that prevents you from making healthy choices.

Research shows that this method works well with people who start unmotivated or unprepared to make changes. In a supportive demeanor, the interviewer’s role is to encourage the patient to talk about their need for change and their reasons for wanting to change. And to induce a conversation about change and commitment.

It is a short-term therapy that requires just one or two sessions although it can be included with other longer-term therapies.

Begin Mental Health Counseling in Los Angeles Today!

You might just be feeling that something is not quite right and there’s nothing you can do about your mental health. And no one would understand if you told them. But at Montare Behavioral Health, we do understand. And we have an experienced, professional, and caring staff that will help you discover what that little problem that’s bothering you is. Our mental health counseling is designed with you in mind. Discover yourself and discover a fulfilling life. Don’t wait, contact us here.