Therapy Is Not 'One Size Fits All'

The National Institute of Mental Health defines the different types of psychotherapy that can be adapted for both children and adults.

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” teaches people strategies and gives them tools to deal with stress and unhealthy behaviors. The National Institute of Mental Health defines these different types of therapies, each of which can be adapted for both children and adults:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps a person focus on his or her current problems and how to solve them. Both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in this process. The therapist helps the patient learn how to identify distorted or unhelpful thinking patterns, recognize and change inaccurate beliefs, relate to others in more positive ways, and change behaviors accordingly. CBT can be applied and adapted to treat many specific mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.

Interpersonal Therapy is most often used on a one-on-one basis to treat depression, aiming to improve communication patterns and the ways people relate to others. IPT helps identify how a person interacts with other people. When a behavior is causing problems, IPT guides the person to change the behavior. IPT explores major issues that may add to a person’s depression, such as grief or times of upheaval or transition.

Family-Based Therapy has been shown to be effective especially for disruptive disorders such as conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. Some treatments are designed to reduce a child’s problem behaviors and improve parent-child interactions. Parents are taught the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children. Similar training helps parents manage their child’s attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health offers a wide array of resources and information on the latest mental health research. Visit their website for more in-depth descriptions of each type of therapy mentioned above, as well as other approaches such as light therapy, play therapy, and creative arts therapy.

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