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All About Therapy

Jan 7, 2021

Therapy is a great resource for anyone looking to get to know themselves and their actions a little bit better. It’s an effective way to treat mental illness, stress, and other issues you may be facing. In fact, 75% of people who go to therapy report benefitting from it.

What is Therapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a treatment for mental illness that involves working with a mental health professional to solve problems. The goal is to empower you to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Your individual goals will typically guide talk therapy, which is why each person’s therapy experience is unique. Some people want to focus on symptom reduction and some people are just looking for a safe space to process tough emotions.

Psychotherapy provides a collaborative, non-judgmental, and confidential environment for you to work through your problems. Psychologists are skilled professionals who have training in research-based practices. Therapy can be short-term or long-term. Some people benefit from a couple of sessions, while others prefer ongoing appointments. Your experience will depend on your individual goals. 

How Does Therapy Help?

Therapy can help you with a variety of different things. It can help people living with a mental illness develop healthy strategies so they can reduce and cope with their symptoms. Another treatment for mental illness, psychiatric medication, is often shown to be most effective when combined with talk therapy. Therapy can also help individuals with a substance abuse disorder.

Therapy helps different people with different things. Anyone can benefit from it. It can help you with interpersonal conflicts, stress, grief, recovery from abuse, coping with medical issues, or other problems you might want help with.

Therapy can help you identify thoughts or behaviors that are harmful and work to change them. 

For individuals with a mental illness, therapy can be useful in teaching you about your illness and your symptoms. Your therapist can teach you mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Therapy can also help you develop healthy behaviors and patterns of thought. 

Types of Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying negative thought patterns or behaviors and replacing them with healthy alternatives. A therapist helps their client catch and intercept the harmful thoughts and think through them, determining if they are accurate or not. CBT can help with a variety of diagnoses, including depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that can be used to treat borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and substance abuse disorders. It focuses on managing emotions, mindfulness, and accepting negative feelings.

Interpersonal Therapy focuses on improving relationships with others. Clients work with their therapist on enhancing their interpersonal skills.

Psychodynamic Therapy focuses on improving awareness of harmful unconscious thoughts. Clients often talk through past life experiences and work with their therapist to overcome negative feelings and behaviors.

Therapy can happen individually or in groups. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapists also do telemedicine, where you can call or video chat with your therapist.

How to Start Therapy

If you’re ready to start therapy, the first step is to find a therapist. You can get a referral from your provider, your insurance plan, or a friend or family member. You can also do your own research to find a therapist. Remember, different types of therapists may specialize in different areas. It’s important to ensure you find a therapist who can help you with your situation. 

You are always welcome to try seeing different therapists until you find one that you work well with. Psychologists want you to feel comfortable with them. Make sure it feels like a good fit.

It’s also important to think about your goals. Why do you want to go to therapy? What do you want to get out of it? Knowing this will help you and your therapist determine a path forward.

You can find a therapist using Psychology Today’s database or you can find a psychologist using this search page from the American Psychological Association. 

An Array of Services

Guild provides a variety of different mental health services. Learn about what we do and see if we can help.



Psychotherapy, National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Psychotherapies, National Institute of Mental Health. 

Therapy, American Psychological Association.

What is Psychotherapy? American Psychiatric Association. 

Psychotherapy, Mayo Clinic.