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What is Individual Therapy?

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Individual therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a mental health professional works with an individual with personal issues, such as mental illnesses or a variety of emotional struggles and helps treat them. The main objective of individual therapy is to improve the quality of life and inspire change in an emotionally troubled individual. Individual therapy is also referred to as therapy, counseling, talk therapy, or psychosocial therapy. It is a joint interaction between a therapist and an individual to resolve mentally disturbing issues that affect a person's well-being. Individual therapy can assist individuals to overcome emotional barriers, increase positive feelings such as compassion and self-esteem, and improve overall well-being. Individuals in therapy can learn skills to manage tough situations, make healthy choices, and reach goals in life.

Indications of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy can help treat behavioral, physical, emotional, and mental problems. Issues that may be explored during therapy, but are not limited to, include:

  • Relationship or marriage issues
  • Family issues
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger management issues
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Emotional/physical abuse
  • Sexuality
  • Insomnia
  • Food and eating issues

How does Individual Therapy Work?

The first therapy session often focuses on obtaining information and involves a discussion with individuals about their past emotional, mental, and physical health. Therapists will also discuss issues that prompted the individual to seek therapy. A therapist may need many sessions to gain a thorough knowledge of an individual’s needs and how best to help resolve issues.

Many therapists encourage their patients to do the majority of the talking throughout their sessions. Initially, it may be difficult for patients to speak about current concerns or past experiences. Sessions may elicit strong feelings. During treatment, it is possible to become irritated, furious, or feel sad. However, as the session progresses most patients gain confidence and a level of comfort with their therapist and open up to narrate their problems.

Therapists may give homework to their patients to help them build on what they have learned in treatment sessions. Individuals undergoing therapy have the option of asking questions at any time during the process. Over time, individuals in therapy may acquire healthier thinking patterns and a more optimistic attitude towards life challenges.

What to Expect from Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy can help with a wide range of circumstances that may cause anger, grief, stress, or conflict. In a private and comfortable setting, a therapist and an individual will address a variety of critical concerns, including:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem-solving
  • Behavior patterns
  • Expression of thoughts and emotions

Individual therapy can be long-term (looking into more complicated issues) or short-term (concentrating on immediate concerns). The frequency of appointments and the number of sessions will depend upon the patient’s situation and the advice of the psychotherapist. The actual method in which this therapy is implemented varies depending upon the difficulties at hand, the therapist's practices, and the individual's needs.

Types of Individual Therapy

Among the more commonly used forms of individual psychotherapy include:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy: This is also referred to as insight-oriented therapy and helps patients comprehend how their past experiences impact their present ones. It is the oldest type of psychotherapy. This therapy has the objective of identifying a patient’s unconscious defense mechanisms. Although psychodynamic therapy achieves this aim by motivating patients to speak about whatever comes to their mind, this therapy can be modified into a more focused type to cure specific problems.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps you to recognize and change disturbing or destructive thought patterns that have a negative influence on your behavior and emotions. It also assists you to improve your coping skills in relation to transitional challenges in life.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): In this therapy, psychotherapists assist patients to work toward acceptance of their behaviors and emotions rather than being in conflict with them or avoiding them. As patients communicate their personal value systems, they pledge to change those behaviors that are counterproductive and do not align with the accepted norms or values.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This is a sub-branch of CBT and is specifically designed to assist patients with a borderline personality disorder but can also be used in multiple circumstances. The aim of DBT is for the psychotherapist to assist the client in a non-judgmental approach, and for the patient to experience emotions and feelings in a non-judgmental manner.

Advantages of Individual Therapy

The advantages of individual therapy can change one’s life and the benefits often last longer than the therapy itself. Some of the many advantages of individual therapy include:

  • Helps to establish a safe, trustful, and healthy adult relationship
  • Helps to articulate emotions and feelings
  • Helps to identify defense mechanisms
  • Increased self-efficacy and self-awareness
  • Promotes behavioral accountability
  • Improves problems solving and management skills
  • Helps to resolve personal issues and conflicts
  • Helps to avoid negative thoughts and dysfunctional behavior
  • Helps to gain a better understanding of oneself

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