Individual psychotherapy involves regularly scheduled sessions between the patient and a mental health professional. The goal of this treatment is to help individuals understand why they are acting and thinking in ways that are troubling or dangerous to themselves (or others). This allows a person to have more control over their behaviors and to change these behaviors when possible.
Talk-therapy sessions may focus on a person’s current or past problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings, or relationships. By sharing their experiences with a trained, knowledgeable, and understanding person, individuals with mental illnesses may gradually understand more about themselves and the problems they are facing.
Individual psychotherapy is used successfully to treat emotional, behavioral, and social problems in people with mood disorders, ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment that focuses on the relationship between an individual’s thought, feelings, and behaviors. A CBT therapist will try to explore the links between the thoughts and emotions that occur prior to disruptive behaviors in people with mental illness. By establishing these connections, individuals learn to identify and change inappropriate or negative thought patterns and as a consequence, can address the behaviors associated with their illness.
A common goal is to recognize negative thoughts or mind-sets (mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, reasoning, decision making, and problem solving) and to replace them with positive thoughts, which will lead to more appropriate and beneficial behavior. For instance, CBT tries to replace thoughts that lead to low self-esteem (“I can’t do anything right”) with positive expectations (“I can do this correctly”). This can often times involve “homework” to help an individual “practice their skills” in between treatment sessions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a psychology researcher at the University of Washington, to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. DBT may be the first therapy that has been experimentally demonstrated to be generally effective in treating BPD. A meta-analysis found that DBT reached moderate effects. Research indicates that DBT is also effective in treating patients who present varied symptoms and behaviors associated with spectrum mood disorders, including self-injury. Recent work suggests its effectiveness with sexual abuse survivors and chemical dependency.