skip to Main Content

Psychotherapy: Who Needs Counseling?

The data is clear; millions of American seek help for emotional problems, and most have them get better. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 1/3 of American adults experience a mental health or substance abuse related problem. About ¼ of the population experiences a diagnosable depression or anxiety at some point in their life. About half of all visits to family doctors are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems. Depression is known to increases the risk of developing heart disease. In fact, people with depression are four times more likely to have a heart attack than those with no history of depression according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Treatment for emotional problems is the key to improving mental health as well as preventing devastating health problems.

People generally seek treatment for emotional problems when they recognize that their feelings and symptoms have begun to cause problems in their day to day life. These people realize that what once may have seemed to be a relatively minor problem, has taken over their life. Other people may seek treatment as the result of family, friend, work or the court system’s encouragement or insistence. At the point when a person enters therapy, they may feel overwhelmed with their life problems and unable to cope. Whether the problem is depression, anxiety, anger, substance abuse or a combination of symptoms, their life has become difficult to manage. Professionals trained in the treatment of mental health problems are psychotherapists.

Training and licensing for psychotherapists is different from state to state and there are a variety of training programs, degree options and specialties within the field of psychotherapy. Therapists generally have a Masters Degree minimally and may have PhD’s. The degree may be in psychology, counseling or social work and can be an M.A, M.S.W, M.S, a PhD or a PsyD. Many psychotherapists have broad-based training but there are also therapists that specialize in specific areas such as children, marital, sexual abuse, delinquency, serious mental illness, and substance abuse. Some are more comfortable working with families, while some prefer individual work and yet other prefers to work with groups of people experiencing similar problems.

According to the American Psychological Association, there is evidence that people with emotional issues who have at least several sessions of psychotherapy are much better off than people left untreated. While some have challenged the benefits of psychotherapy, the bulk of research supports the benefits of talk therapy. People generally feel better after working through problems and examining behaviors, learning new ways to cope. A referral to a psychotherapist can be obtained by talking to you family doctor, insurance company, community mental health center or even the phone book. Be sure to ask questions about treatment modality and training as well as information related to payment and insurance plans that the therapist accepts.

To get the most out of therapy, be honest, open and willing to try new strategies and techniques as recommended by the therapist. Psychotherapists can not generally prescribe medication, so if that is a necessary component of treatment, as close working relationship between your doctor and therapist will be important.