The Role Of A Mental Health Therapist
Most people know when they need to go to a medical practitioner for a health problem. Whether it’s your primary care physician, OBGYN, dermatologist, or eye doctor, it is usually pretty easy to figure out when you need to see someone for help with a physical ailment. But what about when you need help with your mental health?
The stigma surrounding mental health may prevent people from seeking help, and many may not know what mental health therapists do. It’s easy to assume that therapy is only for people with severe mental health concerns, but it can help anyone going through a tough time.
Whether you’re experiencing trauma, feeling down, having trouble getting motivated, or going through a divorce, a mental health therapist can help you learn how to manage your thoughts and feelings and give you the coping skills you need to work through any difficult times ahead.
What Is A Therapist?
A mental health therapist is trained to understand how the human mind works. They understand how different events in your life or how a mental illness can affect your thoughts and behaviors. When you attend therapy, your mental health therapist will help you understand these things and learn the coping skills to overcome them. Mental health therapists can specialize in a variety of approaches to therapy, but they are not limited to using only one method. A therapist may choose different elements of treatment depending on their client’s individual circumstances.
Who Can A Mental Health Therapist Help?
The truth is that just about anyone can benefit from speaking to a mental health therapist. You do not need a diagnosable mental health condition to talk to someone. Sometimes, you might be going through something temporary that you’re struggling to cope with, like a divorce or losing your job, and talking to someone can help. Or, maybe you’re having emotions or exhibiting abnormal behaviors and need help figuring out what’s happening. If you’re struggling to cope or noticing changes in your mental health that you can’t explain, a therapist is there to help.
What Is Therapy?
Therapy is short for psychotherapy, an approach to treating mental health issues through talking with a qualified professional. There are many forms of therapy, but they all involve learning about the symptoms you’re experiencing and determining how your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors affect your life. From there, you and your therapist work on developing coping mechanisms so that you can deal with challenges as you move forward.
There are many reasons people seek out therapy, including:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
But you do not have to have any of these conditions to speak to a therapist. For example, therapy can help you do the following:
Manage stress related to work
Learn how to resolve conflicts
Work on anger management
Cope with significant life changes, like a death in the family or a divorce
Come to terms with a new medical diagnosis
Process abuse or trauma from the past
Many professions can also be considered mental health therapists, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed mental health counselors, mental health nurse practitioners, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers. Each of these professions undergoes different types of training and has its own unique approach to helping people in therapy.
Types Of Therapy
There are multiple approaches to therapy that your mental health therapist might use, including the following:
Psychoanalysis And Psychodynamic Therapy
These approaches focus on changing unwanted thoughts and behaviors by focusing on unconscious motivations. Sessions focus on increasing self-understanding and gaining insight into the inner conflicts that underlie any emotional conflicts or defense mechanisms. Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy are based on the theories of Sigmund Freud, but they have been modified and significantly expanded.
Behavioral therapy focuses on how people learn both normal and abnormal behaviors. It is built on multiple forms of conditioning, including classical conditioning, desensitizing, and operant conditioning.
This approach focuses more on what people think than what they do. It is based on the belief that dysfunctional thinking leads to dysfunctional behaviors or emotions and that people can change these things by changing their thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy combines behavioral and cognitive therapy. It is based on several principles, including the idea that many mental health problems are based on unhelpful thinking and that people can learn better ways of coping with their problems. CBT focuses on gaining a better understanding of the thoughts behind the behaviors and using problem-solving to cope with different challenges.
This approach to therapy centers on people’s capacity to develop their maximum potential by making rational choices. It is based on many themes, including the importance of being in the here and now, accepting responsibility for yourself, and searching for meaning in life.
How To Get The Most Out Of Therapy
Before starting therapy, knowing how to make it work for you is important. The most vital part of any therapy is to be open and honest with your mental health therapist. You must also be committed to putting in the effort and doing the work. Remember that your therapist is not there to pass judgment; their job is to listen and help you understand your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
During your sessions, your therapist may ask you direct questions, or they may encourage you to speak freely about whatever is on your mind. You might talk about things in the past that are affecting how you think, feel, and act in the present, or you may discuss the recent changes in your life that have made you seek support. The approach your therapist takes will depend on their specialty and your personal circumstances.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Everyone can use some extra support sometimes. Whether you’re going through a life change, having feelings of self-doubt, or experiencing changes in your thoughts and behavior, talking to a therapist can help you figure out how to navigate these challenges.
If talking to someone face-to-face feels too intimidating, or if you’re just looking for an alternative approach, consider online therapy. When you sign up, you can be matched with an available professional in as little as 48 hours so you can get started as soon as possible. You don’t have to worry about being on a waiting list for an available appointment slot, and because you attend sessions from home (or anywhere you have an internet connection), there’s no commute, either.
Research shows that online therapy is effective, too. In fact, one comparison of 14 studies found that online treatment is just as effective as in-person treatment. If you’re ready to take the next step, connect with an online therapist at BetterHelp to get started.
Mental health therapists are qualified to help people with various mental health issues, from PTSD to anxiety to difficulties dealing with life changes. Don’t let the stigma surrounding mental health stop you from getting the help you need.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a mental health therapist do?
Mental health professionals provide support, counseling, and treatment options for individuals who would like to improve their mental health, whether that means recovering from trauma, addressing mental illness, or simply feeling more integrated and empowered in their lives. They use cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and counseling to help people improve their overall well-being. They may see patients in their office, in a hospital setting, or through online therapy.
What are mental health therapists called?
Mental health services include a wide range of professions, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs), mental health nurses practitioners, pastoral counselors, and you also have an option for a completely different approach such as integrative psychiatry. Generally, you call a mental health professional by their degree and the type of therapy they provide.
What does it take to become a mental health therapist?
The best mental health professionals are passionate about helping others. They need to have a highly scientific mind and interpret and respond to people’s stories. At times, they may hear or witness distressing material or behavior, so this profession is not for the faint of heart. Every mental health professional must have a strong sense of ethics, cultural sensitivity, and a non-judgmental attitude. Aspiring mental health professionals also need to be committed to their field — it takes many years to complete the required training and education.
What is the difference between a mental health counselor and a therapist?
The difference is semantic: mental health counselors are one type of therapist, and “therapist” is a broad term. In practice, though, most people use “therapist” to refer to a clinical psychologist, a marriage and family therapist or other mental health professionals who provide psychoanalysis or advanced cognitive-behavioral therapy. In contrast, mental health counselors typically provide talk therapy and general psychotherapy. When finding a therapist, look for someone who provides the type of therapy you want and treats the mental illness or symptoms you have.
Who qualifies for mental health diagnosis?
Anyone can be diagnosed with a mental illness, no matter their family history, upbringing, or general lifestyle. Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety affect a broad spectrum of people and maybe chronic or temporary. In practice, though, getting diagnosed is not as simple as you might imagine. Some patients have to prove their illness to their health insurance provider constantly or to obtain disability benefits. Some diagnoses, such as depression, tend to be regarded as more “treatable” than others, which causes some people to assume that they are not disabling. This is not true.
When seeking help for your mental illness, remember that only health care professionals can diagnose you. You cannot diagnose yourself by taking an internet quiz or reading the DSM-5. Even your primary care physician can technically diagnose you; however, it is recommended to speak with a licensed, degree-carrying counseling psychologist, or counselor specializing in mental health care. Only mental health professionals will be able to tell the precise condition and the right treatment like anxiety therapy, depression counseling and other treatments for mental health disorders.
What are 3 general methods used to treat mental disorders?
Most mental health professionals will use psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, pharmaceuticals, or a combination thereof. Psychotherapy comprises the most common methods, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and regular talk therapy. Additional options to treat mental illness include art therapy, movement therapy, and bodywork, although these fall under the banner of psychotherapy.
Do therapists diagnose you?
Yes, mental health counselors can make a diagnosis for one or more mental illnesses. Sometimes, they may first identify syndromes to guide a treatment plan and give you an official diagnosis later. Misdiagnoses of mental illness can cause many problems, so don’t worry if your mental health professional wants to take their time in evaluating your symptoms.
Can a therapist diagnose mental illness?
Yes, mental health professionals will refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and other resources to evaluate possible mental illness. However, their primary goal is to create an effective treatment plan in accordance with your goals. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy, marriage and family therapy, and even group therapy.
Is it too late to become a therapist?
Becoming a professional, a licensed therapist does take quite a bit of time. Most mental health professionals spend at least 8 years in school. However, if you want to become a mental health professional, you can absolutely start your education and training later in life.
How much does a mental health counselor make per hour?
Licensed Mental Health Counselors make about $22-32 per hour in the United States, depending on where they are. A therapist with more training and education, such as a clinical psychologist or a marriage and family therapist, often makes upwards of $60 per hour.
Is it OK to cry during therapy?
What happens if a therapist tells your secrets?
Should I tell my therapist my secrets?
What do therapists think when you cry?
Do therapists hug their clients?
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