What are the different goals of psychotherapy?

Did you know that after the pandemic, cases of anxiety skyrocketed by 25% worldwide? More and more people find it difficult to fall asleep, to concentrate on daily tasks and to carry on their back a large pile of uncertainties, fears and tensions.

Diagnoses of depression have also increased. And there are many people who have been thrust into a vicious cycle of stress and distress by the pandemic. In such cases, Psychological therapy can be a great resource for dealing with these issues. and develop greater resilience.

Although it is very difficult to define the true impact of psychotherapy, it is known that between 75% and 80% of patients receiving psychological therapy experience an improvement in symptoms and significant psychological changes. In this way, they not only feel better, but they also develop new resources and strategies to deal with life’s problems, step out of their comfort zone and face their worst shadows while learning and growing as than people.

What exactly is psychotherapy?

Psychological therapy is the art of using the word to heal while presenting a series of scientifically proven techniques in a treatment plan personalized and guided by an in-depth assessment of the person’s problems. In clinical practice, it designates the joint psychological work carried out by the psychologist and the patient so that the latter feels better about himself; a process that comes to life precisely through this shared bond, which allows the patient to talk about the problems that concern him, to understand their cause, their implications and how to treat them.

In other words, It is a form of guidance and assistance used by psychologists to help people who are going through a difficult period or who are suffering from a psychological problem. Therefore, it is a useful therapy to treat or relieve the symptoms of various illnesses such as depression, anxiety and stress, but also more complex problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder. However, it is also a useful resource for equipping patients with tools with which they can deal with the problems of their daily lives in a more effective and developmental way.

Through psychological therapy, it is also possible to modify behavior to avoid behaviors and / or thoughts that generate discomfort, while learning to manage emotions. Although this is not always the case, one of their main purposes is usually the to delve into the inner world of the patient to help you understand yourself better, connect with yourself and free yourself from the conflicts, traumas or worries that bother you. Indeed, its objective, as long as the patient wishes, goes beyond the relief of symptoms and the treatment of the problem; focuses on improving the long-term quality of life of patients.

Although so far we have talked in general about the characteristics of psychological therapy, we will find that there are different streams within psychology that determine the approach to treatment. And when we speak of currents, we mean, so to speak, different schools.

The main currents that approach psychotherapy

In the world of psychological therapy, there are various theories and currents of therapeutic application. Each of them has their own conception of the root of the problems, as well as the way to approach them. In general, they all pursue the same goal, and even if we study them in depth, we find that they share many ideas and techniques; but from a different conceptualization of the origin of the problems, the development of the therapy will differ until reaching the same goal.

This does not mean that there is one psychological therapy that is better than another, but that there are some that are more effective in treating certain diagnoses or problems, and a person may be more comfortable with one type of current than another because of their way of being. The choice of one or the other will essentially depend on the problem to be treated, as well as the training, skills and experience of the psychologist in each of the therapies.

In a general sense, these are the most common streams of psychotherapy in clinical practice.

1. Behaviorism

Behaviorism emerged in the mid-twentieth century based on the idea that we can only directly affect what we observe, visible behavior, and our thought processes. Focused on the present moment, it focuses on treating specific symptoms or problems through small changes in the behavior of the patient to, in this way, obtain an indirect impact on thought and emotion, thus achieving greater well-being. He understands that the discomfort we feel results from the implementation of inappropriate behaviors that plunge us into a vicious circle.

Hence the use of behavioral therapy modify learned behaviors to eliminate symptoms, improve adaptation to the environmentoptimize skills and stimulate a healthier lifestyle.

Currently, the most modern behavioral therapies (we speak of contextual or third generation therapies) are gaining more and more followers, both among professionals and among patients. They focus on the present but seek to have a broader vision of the individual; they come out of it to give great importance to what surrounds them in their daily life at the source of their discomfort, or their well-being.

Additionally, it offers a paradigm shift in how we understand how we relate to our discomfort, and seeks to depathologize it. Instead of fighting it or mitigating it, he finds it much more effective to accept it and not suffer from it, instead focusing the person’s attention on how they can improve through other means, such as reconnecting with personal values, interests and goals. . This type of therapy includes techniques as well known as mindfulness.

2. Cognitive-behavioral

Really, we can say that cognitive-behavioral therapies they are part of the behaviorist current and bring together the principles of cognitivismbut today its role is so key in psychology, which is why we will point it out with its own name in this article.

Cognitive-behavioral therapies are among the most used today because they have the greatest scientific support to date. They are based on the idea that our discomfort stems from a series of distorted and maladaptive thought patterns on the one hand, and a group of learned behavioral patterns on the other; and act on both areas to help us regain emotional well-being.

With scientifically proven effectiveness, cognitive-behavioral therapy it focuses on changing thinking styles and beliefs, as well as behaviors and habits of the patient as a means of relieving their symptoms and reducing their discomfort. It is currently indicated as effective in virtually all psychological problems, and is a form of therapy in which it is often required to be performed by the patient between sessions, thus giving him an active and primary role in his recovery.

3. Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalytic therapy, as it is also called, it is mainly focused on the study of the unconscious. Based on the theory that symptoms and mental disorders arise as a result of the experiences we have in childhood and which remain hidden in our unconscious in a latent way, urges the patient to look deep into the conflicts they present to him cause. This is also why a type of therapy that looks back to the person’s past in search of the source of their conflicts, which usually leads to a longer therapeutic process.

In this way, focuses on the analysis of thoughts, emotions, feelings, memories, fantasies and dreams of the person as a means to access his inner world and determine the cause of his psychological problems.

Although psychoanalysis has been a very important current in the development of psychology as we know it today, in the West it has lost a lot of weight in favor of more current currents such as Cognitive-Behavioral.

4. Humanism

Humanistic therapy is, without a doubt, another of the most important currents. Focused on the here and now, humanistic therapy understands that in each person lives a potential that allows them to grow and evolve. When we do not develop it, this “blocked” potential can become the source of the symptoms and psychological disorders that we experience. In this way, the therapy focuses on discovering this potential, bringing our best version to light, teaching us to accept ourselves as we are and regain our freedom.

Focused on self-discovery, humanistic therapy helps us to analyze our main strengths and qualities, as well as to identify our flaws and accept them as part of our personality. Your advantages? It teaches us to know ourselves better and to reconcile with ourselves, the first step to accepting our lights and our shadows and to start investing in our well-being.

5. Gestalt

Gestalt is another way to treat psychological imbalances and disorders.

With roots close to humanist therapy, Gestalt he understands that all mental processes are subject to our perception. First, we perceive what is happening, and second, there appears learning, memory, or reflective thought. On the other hand, part of the postulate that the whole is more than the sum of the parts and therefore the product of our perceptions comes from a more elaborate process in which the brain adds, orders and gives shape to them.

From this current was born Gestalt therapy, which it focuses on the present moment and seeks for the individual to gain global self-awarenessof their actions and their emotions, of their unfolding and their relation to the context, with the aim of becoming a complete and realized being.

That’s why he pledged to tackle it our ways of perceiving the world, paying particular attention to the qualities that can make us grow as people and open our minds to the reality that unfolds before our eyes. Gestalt therapy aims to make us aware of our emotions, feelings and thoughts to encourage full self-knowledge. Undoubtedly, its benefits go beyond encouraging our unconditional acceptance, but encouraging us to take responsibility for our own well-being and development.

It should be noted that these are not the only currents in psychological therapy, there are others and a wide range of types of therapy that psychologists use in their clinical practice. Although the truth is that more and more psychologists are opting for a holistic therapy in which they take advantage of the advantages provided by different currents and techniques as a more complete, personalized and scalable solution.

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