Psychotherapy helps people with a mental disorder to:
Understand the behaviors, emotions, and ideas that contribute to his or her illness and learn how to modify them
Understand and identify the life problems or events -- like a major illness, a death in the family, a loss of a job, or a divorce -- that contribute to his or her illness and help him/her understand which aspects of those problems he/she may be able to solve or improve
Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life
Learn healthy coping techniques and problem-solving skills
Therapy can be given in a variety of formats, including :
Individual: This therapy involves only the patient and the therapist.
Group: Two or more patients may participate in therapy at the same time. Patients are able to share experiences and learn that others feel the same way and have had the same experiences.
Marital/couples: This type of therapy helps spouses and partners understand why their loved one has a mental disorder, what changes in communication and behaviors can help, and what they can do to cope. This type of therapy can also be used to help a couple that is struggling with aspects of their relationship.
Family: Because family is a key part of the team that helps people with mental illness get better, it is sometimes helpful for family members to understand what their loved one is going through, how they themselves can cope, and what they can do to help.
Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled appointments. The effectiveness of therapy depends on your active participation. It requires time, effort, and regularity.
As you begin therapy, establish some goals with your therapist. Then spend time periodically reviewing your progress with your therapist. If you don't like the therapist's approach or if you don't think the therapist is helping you, talk to him or her about it and seek a second opinion if both agree, but don't discontinue therapy abruptly.
Here are some tips to use when starting therapy for the first time :
Identify sources of stress: Try keeping a journal and note stressful as well as positive events.
Restructure priorities: Emphasize positive, effective behavior.
Make time for recreational and pleasurable activities.
Communicate: Explain and assert your needs to someone you trust; write in a journal to express your feelings.
Try to focus on positive outcomes and finding methods for reducing and managing stress.
Remember, therapy involves evaluating your thoughts and behaviors, identifying stresses that contribute to your condition, and working to modify both. People who actively participate in therapy recover more quickly and have fewer relapses.
Also, keep in mind, therapy is treatment that addresses specific causes of mental illness; it is not a "quick fix." It takes longer to begin to work than medication, but there is evidence to suggest that its effects last longer. Medication may be needed immediately in cases of severe mental illness, but the combination of therapy and medicine is very effective.