If you’ve made the decision to look into therapy, you might be asking yourself, “where do I even begin?” Well, you’re not alone. The process of finding the right therapist and the right therapeutic approach can feel overwhelming. In fact, you may begin not knowing that the therapeutic approach will impact the progress you make in therapy. Why? Mental health professionals operate from a variety of techniques (and styles), and it’s important to explore the systems of treatment as you begin the task of selecting a therapist. Let’s take a deeper look at the therapeutic approaches most commonly used so that you can make an informed decision.
Start the process by asking yourself what you are expecting from therapy. Would you prefer an analytical process, in which you’ll learn techniques for changing behaviors, or simply be able to talk freely with gentle guidance and acceptance? Therapy is a highly personal process, and naturally, you’ll want a therapist that’s most effective for you.
Many therapists will blend various therapeutic techniques to customize an approach that works for each client. Your therapy should feel comfortable to you - understanding how different therapies operate will help you determine how to meet those needs.
Common Therapeutic Approaches
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (also called CBT) is highly analytical and examines the impact of both your thoughts and your actions. The cognitive side centers on how thoughts influence mood and actions, while the behavioral aspect focuses on actions and learning strategies to modify problematic behaviors. It’s based on understanding your thought process or behaviors in the present and identifying how dysfunctional patterns in these areas may contribute to a larger life problem. By gaining awareness of these thought patterns, you can work with your therapist to change them. Cognitive behavioral therapists work on the premise that you can change your feelings by changing your thoughts and actions.
If you find yourself troubled by negative self-talk, self-defeating habits or automatic responses that don’t match your actual goals, CBT might work well for you - it teaches you to recognize these patterns as they emerge and make different choices. The "behavior" component refers to learning and practicing more productive responses to distressing circumstances or feelings, such as relaxing and breathing deeply instead of hyperventilating when in an anxiety-provoking situation. Sessions are highly structured - you and your therapist work together as a team to identify and change faulty thoughts and actions. In turn, you’ll be encouraged to work on it daily with homework assignments when you’re not in session – say, keeping a journal of negative thoughts, their context and what triggered them. The work you do in between sessions is key to your progress.
Behavioral Therapy adopts the philosophy that, if you change your problematic behavior, you will see a positive change in thoughts, feelings, and interactions with others. The idea is to change your actions to get a different result that’s more in line with your goals. Healthline defines this therapeutic approach as one that seeks to identify and help change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. It functions on the idea that all behaviors are learned and that unhealthy behaviors can be changed. The focus of treatment is often on current problems and how to change them.
This concept uses positive reinforcement and motivation to pinpoint and improve problematic patterns of behavior. It's common for behavioral therapy to be incorporated into sessions when working with interpersonal, relationship, and emotional issues. Many times, your therapist will guide you with relaxation and “pause” techniques (such as breathing exercises) so that you can take a moment and make a better choice of words or actions when you are in the midst of your distressing situation. Here is where you’ll find Anger Management Therapy, Conflict-Resolution Therapy, and various treatments for impulse control and addiction.
For a deep dive into your “whys”, Psychodynamic Therapy focuses on how life events, desires, and past and current relationships affect your feelings and the choices you make. This therapeutic approach is based on the idea that our behavior and feelings as adults are rooted in our childhood experiences. Relationships (particularly parenting) are of primary importance in determining how we feel and behave. You’ll be going all the way back to the beginning when working within this concept. In this type of therapy, you and your therapist identify the compromises you've made to defend yourself against painful thoughts or emotions - much of which you may not realize you are doing. Psychodynamic therapies focus on this unconscious process by having you talk freely about your thoughts or feelings, and it aims to delve into memories that might yield a better understanding of present problems.
Humanistic Therapy is a client-centered approach that emphasizes unconditional acceptance from the therapist and the free expression of the client. With this approach, you are encouraged to openly express what is affecting you as you work with the therapist to find meaning and understanding of your emotions, without as much analysis. The therapist provides little authority or direction. Instead, he or she offers subtle guidance and encourages the client to take control of their destiny. This therapeutic approach is helpful when untangling issues with gender identity, LGBTQ lifestyle, or any other situation in which you could be questioning yourself and your value. It’s also very helpful for grief counseling and coping with a loss of any kind. Because the therapist focuses on you and your feelings, you’ll be able to talk freely and feel validated and accepted.
No matter which therapeutic approach sounds most appropriate for you, the match between you and the therapist may be as important as the strategy he or she uses. That is - you want to feel comfortable and put your mental health in the right person’s hands. Let reflect help you connect with your best match, with the top network of trusted professionals in the Bay Area. Our 55-point matching system helps us to get a good therapeutic match the first time. 90% of reflect therapy clients find a therapist they like and we are ready to help you find the right match for you as well.
As the conversation continues to grow around the importance and availability of quality mental health resources, many strides have already been taken to raise awareness by corporations and community members alike. May is Mental Health Month, and in fact, this year marks the 70th anniversary of this vital movement. That’s quite a milestone - one that is well worth the highlight!
We want to take a moment to honor all of the hard work and dedication that has taken place over the decades and a few ways to make the most of Mental Health Month.
First began in 1949, Mental Health America and its affiliates developed the observance of ‘May is Mental Health Month’ by reaching millions of people through local events, screenings, and the media. The point? To spread the word that mental health is something that everyone should care about. And that is every bit as important today as it was seventy years ago.
Each year, Mental Health America assigns a theme to unify the movement and hone in on specific aspects of the cause. This year’s theme is kind of a ‘part two’ that follows the 2018 focus on #4Mind4Body. Psychology Today describes #4Mind4Body 2018 as an emphasis on the fact that “health is an all-encompassing matter and we must take care care of our minds just as much as we take care of our bodies.”
For 2019, the #4Mind4Body campaign has been expanded even further to include the topics of support animals, spirituality, humor, work/life balance, recreation and social connections for enhancing mental health and well-being.
What’s amazing is the way in which this theme really does speak to our current, modern mood. Taking a holistic approach, Mental Health America has long supported the idea that mental health especially benefits from a multi-pronged strategy, addressing the whole person and the community at large. The movement has evolved over the decades, always with an honest look at all of the pieces of the wellness puzzle - it’s current, it’s relevant, and it’s relatable.
It’s important to enhance mental health and well-being with the numerous resources at our disposal, and those resources are growing every day, especially in the Bay Area.
The power of the internet has been an essential tool in raising awareness across the board. In today’s world, social media and the 24/7 availability of information connects us all in ways that were unimaginable even thirty years ago. This ability to foster awareness and empower change through this modern lens is incredibly exciting and we fully support efforts to amplify that reach.
4 Ways to Make the Most of Mental Health Awareness Month
Join the conversation
Across all social media channels in May, you’ll likely see green ribbons and hashtags related to Mental Health Month and we encourage you to join the conversation online. The importance of breaking the stigma cannot be overstated. Discover mental health stories from others and even marketing campaigns from corporations, such as Burger King’s Real Meal campaign for mental health. Consider sharing your own story with the world if you are comfortable.
Explore the facts
Data within the mental health field can be eye-opening. There is a wealth of information online that supports the need for access to resources. Sharing such facts within your social media activity this month adds weight to the message that it’s okay to ask for help. Healthline, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America are all user-friendly sources for mental health-related information.
Check in with yourself
Take some time to visit your own mental health. Are you struggling? Are there areas that could benefit from a trusted professional? Or maybe there are some trouble spots that simply deserve a gentle acknowledgment. By getting in touch with your headspace, you can learn so much - and it’s worth your time. From there, give yourself permission to take it to the next level by adding a professional therapist to your self-care team.
Break the Stigma
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to accessing mental health resources is our own expectations, our own set of rules that make it hard to reach out. In fact, sometimes it might even be a stretch to take a look at our lives and realize that we have unmet mental health needs in the first place. Here in the Bay Area, where work/life balance alone can be a huge hurdle, it’s pretty common to keep plugging along without checking in. But that’s where you could be missing opportunities to achieve higher levels of happiness and productivity.
Or, perhaps it’s a friend or family member that is encountering struggles with their mental health - Mental Health Month offers an opportunity to show support, broaden knowledge on the subject and enhance the important sense of community around what can sometimes be considered an isolating experience.
Support, acceptance, and outreach are keys to breaking the stigma of mental health needs, and this mindset lowers the walls that stand between those who need help and those who can deliver help.
At reflect, we believe that everyone can benefit from talking with someone on a regular basis. Yet finding a therapist that’s the right match for your unique needs can be intimidating or difficult when tasked with going at the search alone. We can make a difference, by offering the largest self-pay network of top therapists in the Bay Area. Let us help you find your match today. In honor of Mental Health Month, consider it your first step towards a better tomorrow.
Let’s face it - life can get very overwhelming at times. Whether there’s been a sudden loss, new realities, unresolved issues or pressure of any kind, the balancing act between managing our emotional world along with our work/life balance can be challenging to say the least. These days, it can definitely feel like we are getting pulled in a thousand directions at once. One false move, and the whole house of cards comes down. The Bay Area presents its own issues within the areas of career, finances and work/life balance - it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re walking on a tightrope everyday.
That struggle between emotional wellness and work/life balance may benefit from some professional help. Much like we need assistance with our taxes, we can also reach out to professionals who will support our desire for a healthy and happy life. Professional therapists bridge the gap between, “can I do this?” and “here’s our plan.” Whether you suspect an underlying mental illness or simply need an outside perspective to talk it out, therapy can benefit you in many ways.
According to Forbes, there are some pretty intriguing reasons to give talk therapy a try. The number one reason? Therapy has lasting benefits. This is because a therapist helps people work through the issues and develop tools to deal with future problems. While just about everyone can benefit, recent studies found that 60% of adults with mental health concerns did not receive mental health services in the previous year.
Consider bringing a therapist into your support system and you’ll find that it is a fantastic opportunity to level up your professional game and improve your personal life. It can help you handle emotions from problems or stressors, even if they are not dramatically traumatic or life-altering. Therapy can deliver results relatively quickly; the American Psychological Association reports that many patients felt improvement within two weeks of talk therapy. 75% of the clients who work with reflect will gain new insights about their lives within the first four sessions.
Here’s a closer look at four great reasons to put “find a therapist” on today’s to-do list.
Four Benefits of Therapy
Reduce Work and Career Stress
Not only are work and career issues a significant strain on mental health, they require peak performance in order to be successful. That can sometimes feel like a vicious cycle - the very source of stress demands that you operate at your most effective. Understandably, these issues aren’t discussed much within the workplace, and although friends and family can lend an ear, this bears a limit.
A professional therapist provides a neutral, outside perspective where deeper issues are uncovered and a plan can be put in place. It will take some of the strain off your plate and help you feel empowered rather than embattled when facing work the next day. Discussing your work woes with a therapist can be extremely productive for your professional experience, maximizing income and most importantly, enjoying what you do!
Life happens. Constantly. There’s no “pause” button on the stream of events and circumstances that come and go. Therapy delivers tools and techniques from a trusted professional to help you approach situations from a new and more objective perspective. These new strategies lead to feeling more in control of yourself and your reactions; anxiety is reduced and better decisions are reached. This is because working closely with a trusted professional therapist builds confidence and helps to maintain a hopeful outlook. How? By developing your decision-making skills, emotional response, clarity of purpose and coping mechanisms, you’ll be able to trust your new strengths.
Clarify Blind Spots
Even with mindfulness in place and a clear sense of who you are, there is a chance there are still a few blind spots that you’re simply not catching. A therapist is trained and experienced to identify areas that are opportunity for development. Old patterns or habits, a narrow perspective, and relationship stressors are great examples of common blind spots. These areas can be analyzed with a keen eye for removing obstacles that block you from achieving your goals. Sure, talking with friends and family is an important part of your support system however, a trusted professional therapist is neutral and focused on working closely with you to find clear solutions without any emotional stake in the process.
Enhance Life Satisfaction
Life is meant to be lived well. But that doesn’t always happen, does it? And when things get overwhelming, the pressure sometimes leads to poor choices. Perhaps nutrition goes out the window, moods are sour and the bloodstream feels like it is 99% caffeine. To say that life is satisfying when overloaded with pressure is definitely a stretch. This is where the clear benefits of therapy come together in a larger, more comprehensive bonus: you’ll simply enjoy life more. That’s hard to measure yet easy to spot. Time with a professional therapist will be encouraging and productive.
A safe space to get some real results that last. Your overall outlook on life (and yourself) can shift from fearful to hopeful, from confused to clarified, and from frustrated to peaceful. You deserve to enjoy a high-quality life, and therapy provides a clear path along with someone to help you each step of the way.
If you’re ready to re-launch your life through therapy, let reflect help you find the best therapist in the Bay Area to meet your needs. 90% of reflect clients find a therapist they like - perhaps it’s time to add yourself to the equation. Get matched today for a better tomorrow.
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle