How Psychotherapy Can Help Improve Mental Health
When it comes to improving your mental health, there are many things you can do to improve your overall psychological well-being. Staying active and exercising is always on top of these lists, as is having a proper diet and finding ways to indulge in hobbies or relaxation. There is more awareness and focus today on mental health, and people are often encouraged to adopt a holistic approach to deal with the numerous stresses and challenges of daily life.
While improving your mental health is always a positive, in some cases you might need more than just a jog in the park or a meditative moment in the evening. If you have a mental health disorder, you might need to seek out professional advice to help you overcome or deal with the condition. One of the treatment modalities often prescribed to patients with mental health issues is psychotherapy.
An Introduction To Psychotherapy
Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy in Singapore is a way of helping people with a broad spectrum of mental health issues. It involves conversing with a trained therapist about your problems and then collaboratively finding ways to help change negative behaviours or unhealthy patterns of thought. It can also help you repair and rebuild relationships with others, improve social skills and coping techniques, and empower you to live a happier and healthier life.
Psychotherapy is very much dependent on the relationship between you and your therapist. During a typical session you will likely be asked to share intimate details of your life that are relevant to your mental health condition. These details will then be examined and dissected to allow you and your therapist to learn more about what drives your moods, thoughts, fears, beliefs, feelings, and behaviours. Often the root causes of mental health conditions can be found through this process.
Once the causes have been identified, the next step can then commence. Utilising a diverse range of techniques, your therapist will work with you to change the way you think or behave. For some patients, just knowing and being aware of the root cause behind their issues can go a long way in helping them heal and get better. During a psychological counselling session, you may also be taught coping skills to deal with situations that induce stress or provoke unhealthy emotional responses.
What Conditions Can Psychotherapy Help With?
It’s important to remember that Psychotherapy is just one of the treatment methods that is available for patients. It can be used in combination with medication for symptoms such as depressed moods, anxiety, mood swings, compulsive obsessions, or insomnia.
Psychiatric medication is especially useful in cases where there is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It also works well in combination with psychotherapy by reducing the severity of symptoms to allow patients to better work on the underlying causes of their mental health conditions. In some instances medication clearly has a role while in others, Psychotherapy may be the better option for long-term recovery. Any medication prescribed to patients must come from the professional advice of a trained and certified mental health professional.
Psychotherapy is actually an umbrella term for a number of different techniques used to help patients. The method chosen is decided by the personality of the patient, how well they are responding to treatment, and the conditions they currently present with. A few examples of the different Psychotherapy methods include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy.
Some people might have the impression that Psychotherapy is only meant for people with serious mental health conditions. In truth, Psychotherapy can be useful in a range of scenarios. It can be utilised for anxiety issues, anger management, grief and bereavement, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Beyond just the individual, Psychotherapy can also encompass couples counselling and family counselling where the relationship between several people is explored in a professional setting.
Using Psychotherapy Techniques to Help with Individual Mental Health Issues
To allow you to gain a better understanding of how the different Psychotherapy techniques are able to treat various mental health issues, we’ve briefly gone into detail below.
Psychotherapy For Anger Management
There is nothing wrong with getting or feeling angry. In cases where it is justified, it may even be useful to express your anger to others in a constructive manner to let others know how you feel. But where people get angry at the smallest inconveniences, or if they are unable to express their anger in appropriate ways, it can become extremely destructive to both personal and professional relationships.
Here’s where anger management can step in to assist. Anger management is all about controlling your responses to triggering stimuli and stressors. It can help individuals learn more about themselves to discover the root of their anger issues and teach them how to manage their emotions better. The goal of this type of therapy is to both reduce the emotional and physical reflexes to anger and respond to triggers in healthier ways.
To these ends, there are a number of techniques used in anger management therapy. The most prominent type of Psychotherapy used for anger management may be Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The focus of CBT is to support individuals in identifying and challenging negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
To solve anger issues, we first have to understand what anger is. Anger comes from a belief that we have been wronged, or when we experience a provocation that challenges deeply held principles or values. Through CBT, patients are able to explore and glean greater insights into what makes them angry and what is at the core of their extreme reactions.
Once identified and understood, it can be easier for patients to control their unhealthy relationship with anger. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is another type of psychological counselling that can be useful here as it can teach individuals how to regulate their emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and develop coping mechanisms to manage intense emotions.
The next step would be for patients to learn coping skills and strategies to help them deal with and diffuse anger. Some of these techniques involve steps like retreating and rethinking the situation, breathing to calm emotional responses, visualisation, and muscle relaxation. By working with a therapist and learning techniques that are effective for them, individuals can learn to manage their anger in a healthier manner.
Learn More: 4 Tips For Dealing With Anger Management Issues
A significant percentage of people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. While not everyone who undergoes trauma will have lasting negative reactions due to the event, it can on occasion affect someone psychologically, socially, and physically.
Traumatic events encompass a wide range of situations. They can include serious injury, sexual violence, chronic abuse, being bullied, homelessnes, or any event that threatens a person’s survival. These events can hurt us psychologically to leave long-lasting mental scars. If in the aftermath of these events, a person’s behaviour or thought patterns have changed profoundly, he or she may be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a thorough psychological assessment in Singapore.
PTSD arises from the fact that trauma reshapes our brains and alters the way we respond to similar situations. It can cause symptoms like avoidance behaviours, substance abuse problems, and make it difficult to form meaningful relationships. These changes can affect a person’s career prospects, ability to perform day-to-day activities, or relate to those close to them.
Trauma therapy is largely about providing a safe space for patients with PTSD to talk about and explore the feelings related to their trauma. Psychotherapy methods like Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to the traumatic event.
CPT aims to support individuals in reframing their thoughts and beliefs about the traumatic event in a more positive and realistic way. The therapy helps individuals to recognize that the traumatic event was not their fault, and that the negative thoughts and feelings they are experiencing are a normal reaction to trauma.
Other techniques used to treat trauma include imaginal exposure, where patients confront the traumatic event or situations that trigger their PTSD responses through a process of vivid visualisation. They may be asked to recall and describe the emotions and thoughts that run through their mind when in triggering situations.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy is also often used to treat patients with PTSD. PE therapy involves exposing a patient to their triggers in a slow, safe, and controlled manner until the symptoms reduce. Another effective type of trauma therapy is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), where eye movements and bilateral stimulation are used to release the hidden underlying emotions related to the trauma they suffered.
Grief and bereavement are an inevitable part of life. All of us are likely to lose someone close to us at some point and individual experiences with grief can vary widely. Grief itself usually refers to the emotional response to a loss of someone we care about a lot.
The grieving process can be overwhelming, confusing, and difficult to cope with. It encompasses a spectrum of different emotions. From anger to sadness, guilt, regret, yearning, and emptiness. The complex interplay and intensity involved in grief means that Psychotherapy can be very helpful for people struggling to overcome grief.
Grief counselling provides a safe and supportive environment for people to explore their feelings and experiences surrounding the loss. Therapists work with their clients to help people come to terms with their loss. They help people grieve in a healthy manner by identifying the many confusing emotions they are feeling and develop strategies to manage them.
The primary focus of grief counselling is to accept their loss and the feelings that come with it, before finding ways to move forward and adapt to daily life without a loved one. Much of this latter stage involves rebuilding routines and redefining their personal sense of identity, which can be severely shaken after a loss. Grief counselling is also about allowing people to find meaning in their loss and finding ways to honour the precious memories they hold of their loved ones.
Some of the techniques routinely used for grief counselling involve Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Group Therapy. Patients may respond differently to these various forms of treatment and it is up to the therapist to adjust accordingly.
Another form of therapy which has been found to be very useful for grief counselling in Singapore is Art Therapy. Art Therapy allows people to express their emotions and experiences through creative activities such as drawing, painting, or sculpture.
While grief may not be thought off as a mental health condition, it can have a severe impact on everyday life and functioning. It can lead to issues such as depression, substance abuse, and insomnia. Talking about grief with a qualified professional allows people to express their feelings and learn to cope with them to avoid exacerbating any underlying mental health issues.
Depression is a mood disorder which is characterised by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a distinct lack of interest or pleasure in activities that the patient previously enjoyed. While certain life events can cause short-term changes in mood, depression is usually pervasive and lasts for much longer periods of time.
Patients with depression may find that their condition has a negative effect on their ability to perform at school or in the workplace, and can impact their social relationships. In severe cases, it may lead to suicidal ideation. Depression can be brought on by a variety of factors, including biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.
Studies have shown that Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for depression. Since the root cause of depression can vary, a combination of antidepressants and depression counselling in Singapore is the best approach to tackling this mental health condition.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is widely tapped on for patients with depression. CBT is a goal-oriented therapy that helps individuals identify and change unwanted patterns of thinking and behaviour. Depression often causes patients to react to events in a negative manner habitually. This is known as automatic negative reactions and should be addressed via CBT.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is another type of therapy that can be effective for depression. DBT helps individuals learn skills to manage their emotions and improve their relationships with others. As compared to CBT, DBT has a higher focus on asking individuals to acknowledge and accept their negative thoughts and feelings. It also borrows elements of mindfulness to help patients cope with depression-related emotions.
While psychotherapy for depression is usually delivered one-on-one with the patient, you can also have family therapy, group therapy, or couples therapy which all have their own benefits. It allows therapists to see how their client reacts in social situations with others and gives patients a chance to work on their newfound skills.
All in all, depression counselling can help patients regain a sense of control over their lives, gain insights into the underlying causes of depression, find enjoyment in the things they do, learn coping techniques, and better communication skills.
Severe anxiety can be a very debilitating condition for many people. It affects their mental health, decision making, occupation, interpersonal relationships, and overall quality of life. While medication can help treat the symptoms of anxiety, psychological counselling in Singapore is the best form of treatment to solve the underlying causes.
Anxiety disorders may manifest in different ways. Panic attacks are a common symptom of anxiety disorder and may need medication to keep under control. Phobias can also be characterised as a form of anxiety disorder. PTSD also may involve anxiety disorder symptoms and may have similar treatment.
Often, the anxiety a person feels is fueled by negative and irrational thoughts that can become so ingrained in a person's thinking that they begin to feel like reality. Through psychotherapy, individuals challenge these thought patterns and replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used form of therapy for anxiety disorder. It involves close interaction with a trained mental health professional who can help you examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that drive anxiety. Patients will also be taught coping strategies and the onus is on them to practise these techniques to get better.
Similar to trauma therapy, anxiety therapy may also use techniques like Exposure Therapy to desensitise patients to the situations that trigger their symptoms. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is another treatment modality that has found success for patients with anxiety. ACT involves identifying the values that the patient has adopted in their life and finding ways for them to act in accordance to those values. ACT is about accepting that thoughts and feelings don’t necessarily need to be controlled and finding ways to live according to those values via emotional coping strategies.
Intrinsic & Interpersonal Benefits Of Psychotherapy
Personal growth and development are important aspects of a person’s life. Overcoming mental health conditions like the ones listed above can be a significant milestone in that journey.
Psychotherapy plays an essential role in the process as it allows a person to gain greater self-awareness of their thoughts, feelings, fears, and values. They discover their strengths and weaknesses and work to improve both.
People are also able to realise what external factors trigger strong emotional responses and why they can sometimes fall into negative patterns of thought or action. More than just uncovering these facts, Psychotherapy goes further to empower them to challenge these problematic beliefs and gives them the tools they need to break the cycle of harmful behaviours.
Patients who undergo psychotherapy also learn healthy coping mechanisms that allow them to handle situations they may have previously struggled with. Therapy provides a safe space for their feelings to be validated and this process gives them the opportunity to slowly build up the knowledge and skills they need to take on life’s varying challenges.
Finally, Psychotherapy can help improve a person’s communication skills. Greater self-awareness and increased confidence from coping with situations means that patients who have been successfully treated with the various types of Psychotherapy may be able to build better bonds with others and deepen existing relationships. Exploring the intrinsic benefits of personal growth and development can be an enriching experience for patients and allows them to potentially lead fuller and more satisfying lives.
Extrinsic Benefits Of Psychotherapy
For patients with mental health conditions that severely curtail their quality of life, Psychotherapy can be a game changer. Some conditions may lead to avoidant behaviour which can result in patients unable to complete normal everyday tasks that most of us do not struggle with.
Avoidant behaviours such as social anxiety, fear of failure, or procrastination can limit an individual's potential and cause distress and frustration. Through psychotherapy, individuals can develop strategies to overcome these behaviours and benefit in numerous ways.
Professionally, dealing with and overcoming mental health issues can allow you to perform at your best and give you an edge in pursuing personal and career goals. Many individuals seek therapy to overcome specific challenges or obstacles in their lives, such as career transitions, relationship issues, or personal development. Through psychotherapy, individuals can develop strategies to address these challenges, set achievable goals, and work towards them. This can lead to greater satisfaction and success in various areas of life.
Even where there aren’t easily apparent benefits like better career prospects, patients who have undergone Psychotherapy may find that their general level of happiness and satisfaction with life has gone up and they might be more productive at work and home.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long does Psychotherapy last?
Unlike other forms of treatment like medication or even physical therapy, Psychotherapy has no set duration. It can vary depending on various factors, such as the type and severity of the mental health condition, the individual's specific needs, and the therapeutic approach used.
Psychotherapy is generally considered a long-term process that requires ongoing commitment and dedication from the individual. It is a two-way street where the patient is as involved as the medical professional. In the short-term Psychotherapy can address acute issues or specific challenges. An example of this would be grief therapy where a counsellor helps you through the grieving process.
In contrast, long-term psychotherapy may last for several months to years and aims to address deeper and more complex issues, such as personality disorders, trauma, or other debilitating mental health conditions.
2. Who can benefit from Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy can benefit anyone who is experiencing psychological difficulties that are interfering with their ability to live life to the fullest. These can range from minor inconveniences to mental health conditions that cause them to severely struggle with daily functioning.
It’s important to note that Psychotherapy isn’t solely for people who have a diagnosable mental health condition. It can also be helpful for people who are looking to gain a better understanding of themselves, improve their communication skills, develop coping strategies, improve communication with others, deepen relationships, or simply explore their own personal growth and development.
3. Are psychotherapy sessions confidential?
Yes, Psychotherapy sessions are kept strictly confidential just as medical records are sealed and not disclosed to others. Patient confidentiality is a cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship and without it you cannot create a safe and trusting environment where clients can freely discuss their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgement or consequence.
4. What should I expect during my first session?
During your first psychotherapy session, you can expect your therapist to begin by getting to know you better and asking questions about your history and your reasons for seeking therapy.
This initial session is often known as an intake session, and the purpose of this session is to gather information and assess your needs so that your therapist can create a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for you.
Just as people realise how sedentary lives and modern diets can be harmful to their physical health, there is growing recognition over how much our mental health can be impacted by the rapid industrialisation and changes society has gone through in the last few decades.
Before this widespread awareness took root, many people with mental health conditions went undiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Treatment options were also more limited as we did not yet have the understanding of how talk therapy could be utilised to help patients.
Today, Psychotherapy is a scientifically-backed treatment method for a number of mental health conditions. It has been successfully used to help a multitude of patients and there are well-established protocols around the various techniques involved. Therapists themselves are highly trained and well-versed in a number of different therapy methods and are often able to utilise more than one method to help a patient.
In addition to treating specific mental health conditions, psychotherapy has many benefits for anyone struggling with mental health issues. It can help individuals build self-awareness and self-esteem, improve communication and relationship skills, and develop coping strategies for dealing with stress and difficult emotions.
Psychotherapy can also provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for individuals to express their thoughts and feelings, which can be especially helpful for those who may feel isolated or stigmatised by their mental health issues.
At Redwood psychology our trained therapists and counsellors have a wide range of experiences with patients suffering from various mental health conditions. We are dedicated to continually evolve and innovate to deliver the highest quality of mental health care for all our clients. If you have any questions, reach out to us via our contact us page and our support team will be happy to respond.