5 Popular Types of Psychotherapy that Treat Mental Illness

Teenage boy in an armchair talking with his therapist in a daylight-filled room

Mental health is just as important as physical health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness each year. That equals nearly 53 million people.

Many of these people do not seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. However, seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is one of the bravest things that you can do.

There are many treatment options available to you if you are struggling with mental illness. This blog post will introduce you to five popular forms of psychotherapy that mental health providers use to treat a variety of mental illnesses for people of all ages. These types of psychotherapy include:

Keep reading to learn more about each type of therapy and what disorders they aim to treat.

5 Popular Types of Psychotherapy

1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help people process and cope with trauma. It is a relatively new form of therapy developed in the 1980s. EMDR is an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During EMDR sessions, a mental health professional will guide the patient in utilizing bilateral body stimulation while thinking about the traumatic event. Bilateral stimulation may be in the form of moving the eyes back and forth, listening to bilateral sounds, or using bilateral tapping. These are all completed in sets and guided by a therapist. EMDR helps patients process trauma in an alternative way from talk therapy, and has been proven to be an effective trauma treatment through numerous research studies.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT is an effective treatment for conditions like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. When treating a person with this method, a therapist will help the patient replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. They may also teach the patient coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques to use when dealing with difficult situations or triggers.

A close-up of a young person's hands cupping a senior woman's hands

3. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that gradually exposes people to things they are afraid of to help them overcome their fears. Phobias, PTSD, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder are all examples of conditions that are treated with this method.

Through these sessions, a mental health provider will work with the patient in a safe environment to create a hierarchy of fear-inducing situations—starting with the least feared situation and working up to the most feared situation. They will then help the patient work through each situation until their fear is significantly reduced or eliminated altogether.

4. Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of short-term therapy that focuses on helping people improve their relationships with family members, friends, and peers. IPT is an effective treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety disorders.

With this method, a mental health provider helps patients identify problematic patterns in their attachment styles and teaches them how to communicate more effectively with others. They may also provide guidance on how to resolve conflicts within relationships and how to maintain healthy relationships going forward.

A happy family smiles while posing for a photo outside

5. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that researchers developed for treating borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, today it is used to treat other disorders like bulimia, anxiety, and depression.

This method will teach patients skills to help them regulate their thoughts and emotions, such as:

1. Mindfulness meditation – practicing how to live fully in the moment

2. Distress tolerance – managing emotions during stressful situations without reacting with harmful behavior

3. Emotional regulation – understanding and being more aware of emotions

4. Interpersonal effectiveness – learning how to ask for what you need and setting boundaries with others

Individuals can also participate in group DBT, where they can share their experiences with other patients suffering from similar issues.

A group of middle-aged adults sitting in a circle and laughing with one another during a group counseling session

Overall, these are only a few types of psychotherapy available to treat mental illness. While each type of therapy aims to treat different conditions, they all share the common goal of helping people improve their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, reach out to our qualified mental health professionals at Rural Psychiatry Associates to learn more about these treatments and find out which one may be right for you.

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