What is Individual Psychotherapy? and how does it work?
Usually, when one is suffering from emotional distress, the first thing he should do is to acknowledge his struggle. In our current (modern) world, people believe that mental health is not as important as physical health. These people are wrong.
Mental health is just as important, if not more than physical health: your actions influence your physical health if you think about it. Therefore, you need to be sure that you’re mentally healthy. If that’s not the case, then one option to improve your mental health is by seeking therapy, particularly individual psychotherapy. But what is it, you may ask? Well, individual psychotherapy, sometimes also known as talk therapy, is a branch of psychotherapy where a well-trained mental health professional provides one-on-one support and helps you work through any issues you have, whether personal matters, family issues, work distress, or relational difficulties. Therapy enables you to regain control, or in many cases, to improve your life, your choices, eventually influencing your well-being.
How Does It Work and What to Expect?
One-on-one therapy sessions (often called counseling) allow you to talk through your concerns with a professional in a fully confidential environment. While individual psychotherapy does not make the problems and worries go away immediately, it equips you with the right tools and knowledge to tackle those problems appropriately. While your treatment progresses, you start to own your strength, overcoming past difficulties, painful memories, and often, relational difficulties. Individual psychotherapy can also be used alongside other therapies that you may be receiving, such as family therapy, substance abuse treatment, medication, yoga, etc. In your psychotherapy sessions, you are in a private, comfortable setting where a trained therapist goes through your concerns and expectations, setting up short term objectives, long-term goals and talks you through the following concerns:
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Your behavior patterns
- Conflict resolution
- Expression of thoughts and emotions
- Your problem-solving skills
Your therapist may recommend a time-scale for your therapy, for example, if your treatment would be more suitable short-term or long-term. Your therapist will also discuss the therapy schedule with you (i.e., the frequency, duration, and the number of sessions a week you’re willing to undertake). Be aware, though, that therapy is a highly individualized healthcare area where almost everything is personalized to your situation and circumstances. It is so organized to ensure that you can get the most out of your sessions. In terms of length, you can expect your therapy session to take roughly 50 to 60 minutes, depending on what your therapist recommends and the complexity of the issue explored. Various factors determine the length of your appointments, such as your current emotional distress, what condition you’re suffering from (ex: depression, bipolar, Alzheimer), how much the issue affects you day-to-day, insurance coverage, your schedule, and how quickly you improve.
Finally, you can expect your sessions to be fully confidential. Confidentiality is a very serious topic in healthcare and is heavily abided by all health professions at our office. Nonetheless, some exceptions exist to ensure we can protect you and the community: these situations are uncommon and mandated by law. For example: if you or someone else is in immediate danger of harm, or a judge requires access to a specific part of your medical records. Although these situations are rare, your therapist will explain the limits of confidentiality during your first session. Also, you can always ask your therapist for more information on confidentiality.
What Can Individual Psychotherapy Be Used For?
Individual psychotherapy can be used for a situation where you’ve undergone trauma, such as a loss of a loved one, substance abuse, problems at school or work, if you’re concerned about a friend or family, if you’re having strained relationships with friends or family, or even if you’ve lost enjoyment of activities.
As you can see, individual psychotherapy can cover a vast array of situations, yet narrowing them down to each one carefully and with a medical and scientific approach. That’s why this type of therapy is heavily personalized, as no two people are the same.
Who Will Provide Your Therapy?
There is a vast amount of mental health professionals who provide individual therapy. As with all types of healthcare, therapists have to be licensed to provide any treatment. Your therapist will be very highly educated, having at least a master's degree or a doctoral degree in their relevant field of expertise.
To enlight things, even more, therapists often have specialties. It all depends on the field of expertise, their training, and their role. At the Pasadena Clinical Group, you will find licensed professional counselors (LPC), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), Licensed Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, and Licensed Nurse Practitioners, the latter providing prescription and medication management.
As you see, your therapist is well-trained in his/her area of expertise, so you'll always be in safe hands.
What are the benefits of Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy can treat a wide range of illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, drug addiction, attachment issues, autism, ADHD, by employing a scientific approach to curing some conditions while successfully managing others. The aim is to provide you with the tools needed to tackle your concerns, worries, and underlying conditions, limiting your full potential by uncovering the root cause of each disorder and equipping you with healthy coping skills.
Many research papers have shown that those who undergo therapy have fewer relapses of some of the most common mental health conditions (ex. anxiety, addiction, and depression). Additionally, people who have undergone therapy report that their situation has improved years after their therapy ended. These results show that the benefits of psychotherapy extend beyond the length of the treatment. Additionally, pairing psychotherapy to other therapies, such as medication or neurofeedback, has proved to be more successful for both men and women than people who have opted for an individual treatment alone (ex. prescription only).
Also, contrary to some popular beliefs, therapeutic approaches used in individual psychotherapy are evidence-based. They have been subject to rigorous studies and clinical observations to determine that they positively affect a person’s mental health and lifestyle.
Finally, finding a good therapist whose expertise suits you is just as important as actually going to therapy sessions. The therapist-client relationship influences the results of your psychotherapy sessions. If you and your therapist can communicate well with one another, and if you’re able to share information with him/her comfortably, then that’s great - you’ll be one step closer to success.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your therapist, you can ask us to switch your therapist at any time; some reasons could be gender, past experiences, or difficulty scheduling. You don’t want to hinder your chances of success if you’re uncomfortable with sharing information about yourself with your therapist. Also, to be clear, it is very typical to feel uncertain during the first session. Some therapists don’t suit your personality, which is fine. Therapists understand this, and they will not be angry if you decide to switch to another therapist. After all, they are doing their job for you, not for themselves.
Are there Drawbacks of Individual Psychotherapy
There are very few disadvantages to individual psychotherapy. The benefits, though, are very extensive, so this should hint something to you.
There are just two main disadvantages to individual psychotherapy. Firstly, the only natural way to practice the tools you’ve learned is in the real world. At times, it seems that it is easier said than done; you may forget how to use these tools, relapsing back into your old habits. However, this is very correctable and successful.
Another disadvantage is that without a good rapport with a therapist, you quickly start to miss out on some of the advantages of individual psychotherapy: it is vital to find a therapist with whom you can work well. To reiterate, you must not underestimate the therapist-client relationship. If you do not “click” with your therapist, then do not be afraid to ask us to meet a new one.
What forms of Individual Psychotherapy do you offer?
There are various approaches to individual psychotherapy; however, they aim to equip you with the correct tools, enabling you to tackle real-life situations appropriately. Your therapist may choose to use a specific approach based on your circumstance. Well known and researched approaches to individual therapy are:
- Cognitive Therapy - this approach emphasizes thoughts rather than actions. Cognitive therapists believe that dysfunctional thinking leads to dysfunctional emotions and actions. Hence, by changing dysfunctional thinking to functional review, you’ll change your thoughts and actions.
- Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapy - this approach aims to change your feelings and thoughts by first uncovering the unconscious meaning and motivations of said feelings and thoughts.
- Humanistic Therapy - emphasizes your capacity to make choices and develop your maximum potential. Respect and concern are also essential characteristics of this approach.
- Behavior therapy - focuses on learning’s role in the development of normal and abnormal behaviors.
- EMDR, DBT, ACT, EFT, and many more: are specialty approaches for specific conditions, such as emotional trauma, personality disorder, and relational difficulties.
How To Make Individual Psychotherapy Work For You
To get the most out of your therapy sessions, you should feel comfortable talking to your therapist. Usually, the very first session is used for both of you as a “gauge” to decide whether your therapist is a good fit for you. You can also ask your therapist questions, such as the treatment scope, the type of therapy used, length, expertise, etc.
In therapy, you’ll be encouraged to do most of the talking. Therapists do understand that it may be hard to do so, especially if you’re recovering from a traumatic event.
Sometimes, your therapist may give you a piece of homework to do: it builds on the topics that you’ve covered during your sessions. It is essential to complete this homework fully, as it will help you get used to practicing these techniques in a real-life situation.
Conclusion and Reccomandations
We have explored how individual psychotherapy works, its benefits, possible drawbacks, and what suits you.
Individual psychotherapy is an excellent choice for those looking for a one-on-one therapist for almost any mental health condition. This type of therapy is popular as it provides you with the tools you need to improve your mental health in a fully confidential and understanding environment.
For some, individual therapy is more attractive than group psychotherapy or other therapy options. It all depends on your preferences, what you are looking for, and your schedule.
The world of therapy is highly client-driven. Therapists follow a client-centered principle that enforces the therapist’s idea of not being the “authority” that drive your inner experiences. Instead, they help you change by pointing out any concern and interest in helping you.