Finding the right mental health support is a critical part of your mental health journey.
Adapted from an article by: Mackenzie Patterson
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem in any given year. By the time Canadians reach the age of 40, one in two will have (or have had) a mental illness. Mental health issues are a part of the human experience but understanding how therapy works and which treatments are right for you can feel complicated for many. Talking about the differences in available treatments can help break associated stigmas and set you on the right path to seek the type of therapy that’s right for you.
What is therapy?
Therapy (also referred to as talk therapy, counselling, and more) is a catch-all term used in books, articles, and general pop culture today. In its simplest terms, therapy is a treatment technique that aims to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, behaviours and/or somatic responses (physical symptoms) with the help of a registered therapist.
The benefits of therapy
Regular sessions with a professional therapist can offer many benefits, including improved mood, relief from problematic symptoms resulting from a mental illness, or the ability to better handle everyday tasks that many find challenging. Therapy can often positively impact a person’s quality of life and give them a greater understanding of self.
Common types of therapy
Practitioners have developed several different types of therapy throughout the years to help people improve their mental health and gain relief from mental illness. Below is a list of some of the most common therapy methods accepted as effective methods that can help alleviate various symptoms.
Psychodynamic therapy encourages patients to examine their external world to understand past influences and experiences that drive their behaviour. The practice is derived from traditional psychoanalysis, drawing from object relations, ego psychology, and self-psychology. It seeks to reduce symptoms and improve people’s lives. Psychodynamic therapy serves those battling depression and other psychological disorders. Other practical uses of psychodynamic therapy may include the treatment of addiction, social anxiety disorder, and eating disorders.
Behavioural therapy is an umbrella term that describes different forms of therapy using techniques that help shift harmful or maladaptive behaviours. There are two common types of this type of therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): In cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the therapist challenges the patient’s regular thought patterns to create new neural pathways and beliefs within the brain. This treatment can help patients unravel negative assumptions about themselves, their lives, and the world at large that would otherwise result in harmful behaviours or mood disorders such as depression.
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): As a slight variation on CBT, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) draws on mindfulness, healthy coping strategies, and interpersonal effectiveness to treat personality disorders and other mental health conditions, including those who suffer from eating disorders and substance abuse.
Humanistic therapy encourages people to be true to themselves and embody their unique and authentic personality traits. The three common forms of humanistic therapy are as follows:
- Gestalt therapy: Gestalt therapy is anchored in the present moment to help people gain a greater sense of awareness in the now with the aim of attaining personal freedom and stronger self-direction.
- Client-centred therapy: In client-centred therapy or person-centred therapy, the practitioner acts as more of a facilitator during the session, allowing the client to take charge of the conversation while benefiting from the therapist’s support.
- Existential therapy: Existential therapy takes the whole human experience into account, addressing its limitations and the inherent potential we all hold within ourselves. It may benefit those seeking a greater sense of meaning or purpose in their lives.
Holistic therapy takes the perspective of mind, body, and spirit healing, viewing the patient as an integrated system with multiple aspects that need to be addressed as a whole. It aims to help people achieve greater health and well-being within their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual lives.
In-person vs. online therapy
Thanks to ever-advancing technologies, we can now engage in therapy in-person or from the comfort of our home using a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. A study published in CyberPsychology & Behavior found that patients successfully developed empathetic bonds with their therapists during online sessions. In fact, the article suggested that among those who prefer online therapy, a “working alliance, and perhaps most importantly, an empathic relationship, can be strongly established regardless of the modality of communication.”
Whichever method you choose, both online and in-person therapy has been proven equally effective, so it really comes down to your personal preference.
Start your journey to better mental health
Everyone needs support at one time or another during their life, which is why accessible and effective therapy matters. GreenShield Cares’ Women’s Mental Health program is here to help connect people to the therapy that’s right for them.
The GreenShield Cares’ Women’s Mental Health program’s personalized counselling matching tool includes over fifty matching options, including culture, race, language, and religion, to ensure women can find a mental health professional who shares and/or can relate to their identity and lived experiences. The program offers virtual access to psychotherapists, Masters of Social Work, psychologists and other professionals whose specialties range from sex therapy, relationship counselling, and trauma, including therapists who specialize in Indigenous mental health services. Intersectionality is at the forefront of the matching process, and the diversity of Canadians is reflected in the diversity of the program’s certified practitioners, with hundreds of the program’s certified practitioners have identified as a person of colour, Indigenous, or Black.
This article contains guidelines or advice not intended to self-diagnose or treat. No content should be used as a substitute for direct advice from a qualified professional such as your doctor or mental health professional. Please reach out for support from a certified professional related to the symptoms you may be experiencing.
If you are in crisis and require immediate support, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Alternately, please contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7). For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553).