Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is a process that has been traditionally mysterious. What happens in therapy? How does it work? What kind of therapy is best?
There is a growing body of evidence showing that psychotherapy may work in a number of ways. In depression, psychotherapy may cause changes in the brain that appear very similar to changes caused by antidepressant medications. For anxiety, psychotherapy might help the brain learn to interpret and manage emotional signaling. For ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), therapy seems to help the brain’s “executive function” operate more effectively to control short-sighted or impulsive behavior.
It appears that one form of therapy is not necessarily superior to another. Patients can do equally well multiple types of psychotherapy: CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), supportive psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, etc. For some problems, one type of psychotherapy may be more effective than others. For example, DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) is a specific variant of CBT that is very helpful for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. What is the most important part of psychotherapy? The relationship between the therapist and the patient – studies show that this relationship is often more important than the type of therapy being practiced.
So why is therapy an important part of the recovery process? Even if you take medications, psychotherapy helps you in a number of ways. It can repair damaged or underdeveloped neuronal connections in your brain so that your brain functions more effectively. It gives you a venue to talk with a neutral, nonjudgmental professional who is trained to understand your problems and help you in your recovery process. It can help you learn how to modulate sensations and processes in your body to repair irritated and inflammatory processes.
If you or someone you care about is in psychotherapy, make sure the therapist and the type of therapy it is a good fit. The relationship with the therapist is critical! To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today at (919) 636-5240.
Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Jennie Byrne