What Is Individual Therapy?

One in five Americans has a diagnosable mental illness, according to recent statistics. That relates to millions of people with some form of mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, and addiction, which are the most common.

Let’s say you encounter 50 people in a day. Ten of those people will be struggling with a mental illness. It may have been that distracted grocery shopper, the angry cashier, the woman crying at the bus stop, or you. Today, especially in times like the recent pandemic, people are struggling emotionally.
The good news is that for each mental health disorder, there is help.

Individual therapy is one of the best treatments to help you overcome issues affecting your psychological health. So, what is individual therapy and how can it help?

What is Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy is recognized as a place where you can improve your emotional and psychological well-being. Even if you do not qualify for a diagnosable mental illness, you can still benefit from individual therapy.

Individual therapy allows you to meet with a professional in a safe environment, a place where you can talk about anything without judgment. Together, you and the mental health professional will create a treatment plan that involves helping you overcome barriers to living a rewarding and enjoyable life.

Who Provides Individual Therapy?

Several different treatment professionals can provide individual therapy. The most common is the counselor or therapist, a licensed professional who uses various techniques to help you improve thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. Most counselors and therapists have a minimum of a Master’s degree.

Psychologists hold a Ph.D. and can offer clinical therapy as well as extensive diagnostic testing and assessment.

Licensed clinical social workers can provide therapy, and best serve those struggling with social and health issues. They may also help you coordinate care with other providers. Some licensed social workers may specialize in treating specific mental health problems, like domestic violence, eating disorders, or addiction.

While Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists spend most of the therapeutic time working with families and couples as a whole, there are times when he or she will meet individually to help you improve your role in the family. Plus, it gives you one-on-one time to discuss things privately that you may not want the rest of your family to hear.

All types of individual therapists can evaluate your mental health issues and diagnose you accurately. Further, they can refer you to a licensed Psychiatrist if you both agree that medication may be a necessary part of your treatment program.

How Does Individual Therapy Work?

Individual therapy is a simple process. After your initial intake assessment, you and your mental health professional will establish how you will meet and how often. Today, you can meet online. Or, you can attend in-person sessions.

With individual therapy, only you and your therapist meet. Typical sessions last one hour, and for most, weekly meetings are all that is needed. When you first begin treatment, you may find meeting more than once is beneficial. Over time, you will taper off your sessions until it is time to close your case.
The number of sessions you attend depends on your specific needs. Some people only need six weeks, while others may need six months.

What Disorders Are Treated?

According to California law, insurance companies must cover mental health treatments in several categories, including major depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, or pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

Related: 10 Types of Mental Health Disorders

Individual therapy is multi-purposed. It helps monitor medication treatments, conducts psychological testing, implements treatment plan therapies, and make changes to a plan when needed. Individual therapists document all progress you make in the treatment of your disorder. This allows both of you to measure the success of your program.

How Are Disorders Treated?

Individual therapists engage in talk therapy, often called cognitive behavioral therapy, so that you can express your thoughts and feelings. In this process, your therapist will teach you how to improve your thought processing, leading to positive feelings, which can lead to positive behaviors.

Techniques used to accomplish this can include conflict resolution, anger management, stress management, mindfulness, problem-solving, and identifying strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your issues, your therapist will use evidence-based methods to help you see improvement.

Psychodynamic therapy is a practice that helps you identify patterns in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so you can gain a better understanding of your current mental health. If you struggle with intense negative emotions or constant conflicts in your relationships, dialectical behavioral therapy may be a method used by your therapist.

Many times, people with this problem have an all or nothing perspective. With dialectical behavioral therapy, you learn to identify multiple solutions to a problem.

If you have suffered a traumatic experience, either as a child or adult, there may be times when you feel overwhelmed. You may even have moments when trying to cope with the trauma interferes with your ability to work or complete daily responsibilities.

Trauma therapy may include education to help you better understand trauma and treatments to help you cope with negative symptoms. Past traumas can hold a lot of power. With individual therapy, you can learn how to take control of the trauma and give it to yourself.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy offers extensive benefits, like getting to know yourself better. Recognizing your body’s needs and then providing them is one of the most significant advantages. Further, you can learn how to cope with emotions and manage symptoms appropriately.

Further, you can build a support system of friends, families, and professionals who can offer added help when needed. Finally, you have help in making lifestyle changes that have been holding you back.

Now is the time to work through past issues, learn better ways to overcome obstacles, and start enjoying the extraordinary life you deserve. The best thing is that you don’t have to go through this process alone. With individual therapy, you have an assistant in helping you reach your goals.

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