What type of therapy is right for me?

Therapy, in the simplest terms, helps you process emotions, feelings, distressing experiences and memories in order to heal from the compounded effects of repression which keeps us stuck.

An excerpt from: and psychologist Meghan Marcum, Chief Clinical Officer and Chemical Dependency specialist at A Better Life Recovery in California.

There’s no one approach that will work for everybody, so the process of, well, processing, is about discovering which styles will work best for you. Some of the better-known ones include:

Psychodynamic therapy explores unconscious processes, including defense mechanisms. “It’s best for people who want to gain insight and understand how early relationships are influencing current behaviors,” says Marcum.

CBT therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) aims to change behaviors by examining unhealthy thought processes. “This type of therapy is good for people who are committing to doing homework as part of therapy and setting goals between sessions,” says Marcum.

DBT therapy (dialectical behavioral therapy) was designed for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it has been shown to be effective for people with other mental health issues. “It’s best for people who have difficulty regulating their emotions and need help learning healthy ways to cope with their feelings,” says Marcum.

EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) works by reprocessing traumatic events from the past and is best for people with histories of trauma or conditions like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead a group of five or more patients who usually are struggling with similar problems (substance abuse, grief, social anxiety, anger). If you make sense of your problems best by talking through them or don’t have a strong support system in your life, joining a support group might be a good fit.

Self-help workbooks are best for people who are driven to stay on task without the support of another person. “They share many of the same techniques taught in therapy, but require independent reading and practical application of the skills,” says Marcum.

Mindfulness meditation helps us to stay present and acknowledge our feelings in the moment without judging them. The practice can also keep us aware of any physiological symptoms that may indicate we’re carrying extra tension in the form of unresolved feelings. It’s a good place to start if you need an assist recognizing and labeling your feelings.

Venting to a supportive friend or family member is best for people who enjoy sharing and processing their feelings verbally. “Talking it out can be helpful, but it’s recommended you master other ways to process emotions too, for times when your go-to person isn’t available,” suggests Marcum.

Creative outlets, like art, writing, and dance allow us to express ourselves non-verbally and is a great outlet for people who are creative or may have difficulties verbalizing their emotions, says Marcum.

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