Mental Health Therapies

Effective Therapies Used in Mental Health Treatment

Therapy can be a helpful resource when you’re struggling with an illness or disorder, but what kind should you choose? There are different types designed to treat specific disorders, each having its own unique way of correcting a behavioral pattern or addressing the issues at the center of a disorder.

When you’re suffering from challenges associated with a mental health disorder, you must understand your options are more than just “counseling.” Being aware of the various therapy forms allows you to approach treatment proactively and most efficiently.

The Types of Mental Health Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment

If your goal is long-term recovery, therapy might help you come up with coping mechanisms or strategies to manage cravings and urges. It’s also important to work through any trauma and anger you experienced during or before the substance abuse disorder, which could have been caused by loss, abuse, neglect, etc.

In general, therapy helps you cope better while seeking other resources. Your doctor may prescribe some form of medication (antidepressants or mood stabilizers) to provide temporary relief.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT)

The core principle behind cognitive behavioral therapy is understanding our thoughts and behavior patterns. The therapist then uses this information obtained through talk therapy as a starting point to identify these behaviors.

Basically, the end goal is to replace negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones. Negative thoughts lead to negative behaviors. Naturally, by replacing the negative thought with a positive thought, the subsequent change ends up being a

For example, if we think “I don’t deserve anything good” over time, we might begin changing those beliefs to positive ones like “I’m worthy of happiness.” Cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven effective in treating substance use disorders because it focuses on both the short-term goals of detoxing/rehabbing and long-term healing.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT takes a holistic approach to address emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, self-harm, and eating disorders. Clients develop new ways of thinking about themselves and others through skills training, meditation, mindfulness practice, journal writing, and problem-solving exercises. Research shows that DBT has helped reduce suicide risk among patients with borderline personality disorder, major depressive episodes, and schizophrenia.

Interpersonal Relationship Training (IRT)

IRT combines education, skill-building, and experiential learning to teach individuals how to communicate effectively in relationships. With its focus on social support networks and conflict management, interpersonal relationship training is often used alongside traditional counseling methods.

Although not specifically tailored toward drug dependency, studies show that people who participated in these programs did see improvements in communication and stress reduction.

12-Step Programs

12-step groups offer a community where members discuss personal experiences and feelings without judgment. They provide a sense of hope, empathy, and belonging. Examples of these programs include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, AlAnon Family Groups, Celebrate Recovery International, Courageous Conversations, Justicia, Big Book Support Group, and Step One Program. Some of these organizations require that prospective member’s complete prework sessions online or call ahead to see whether they meet program requirements.

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Common Applications of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy deals primarily with mental health issues, including clinical depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, phobias, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.

While medications and electroconvulsive shock treatments are sometimes necessary, psychotherapeutic interventions tend to produce more effective results. Therefore, the two former methods are usually reserved for severe cases.

There are several main categories of psychotherapy, though many overlap with one another. Here are some examples:


A licensed professional counselor provides supportive advice based on his or her knowledge and expertise. Sometimes referred to as talk therapy, counselors can assist clients with identifying life challenges and developing solutions. Clients may feel free to express concerns and doubts without fear of judgment.

Group Counseling

Similar to individual therapy, group counseling involves talking with peers about similar struggles. However, clients participate in small discussion circles led by a trained facilitator instead of working with one person.

Narrative Storytelling

People tell stories about past events related to their current situation through creative expression. By doing so, individuals gain insight into why certain problems occur. Additionally, the act of telling a story allows them to connect with others who’ve had similar experiences. Some narrative therapists even incorporate elements of art therapy by encouraging participants to draw pictures or make collages during sessions.

Art Therapy

Art therapy encourages clients to create original pieces using materials like pencils, paintbrushes, clay, acrylic paints, etc., depending upon client preferences and interests.

Music Composition

Music composition utilizes music theory, history, performance practices, instruments, improvisation, vocal techniques, ear training, conducting, ensemble playing, musical notation, and listening to hear emotions. Participants learn basic concepts around rhythm, melody, harmony, tempo, dynamics, scales, modes, chords, and composing ideas within various styles.

Another form of therapy, psychodynamic, uses more internal elements to improve mental health challenges.

Common Applications of Psychotherapy

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy includes clients having a much deeper understanding of feelings and emotions. With this deeper internal understanding, clients are able to gain better insight into how they feel and think.

By using internal resources, clients are better prepared to move forward without the help of a counselor to deal with challenges after therapy. In addition, clients are also able to better understand how past events influence current situations and feelings.

There are four distinct phases to psychodynamic therapy:


Evaluation includes the initial assessment or first meeting. This is also known as the history-taking phase, when therapists gather all the necessary information regarding the client’s condition.


This is the true start of the treatment and includes developing a relationship between client and therapist. Goals are set during this stage, and therapists will help patients in understanding how to use therapy to their advantage.


The majority of the treatment is spent here. Clients and therapists work together to achieve the goals laid out in the induction phase.


This is the end of treatment. Goals are consolidated, and a review of the treatment is conducted. Change is appraised, and the role of future change will be evaluated.

These are the most common types of treatment used in standard situations. What are some other types of therapeutic approaches?

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Other Types of Therapeutic Approaches

In addition to the abovementioned mainstream approaches, alternative medicine offers additional options for managing mood, anxiety, and psychotic conditions. Below are two popular alternatives:


Hypnosis induces relaxation and deepens concentration. During hypnotherapy sessions, practitioners utilize guided imagery and visualization to relax muscles, relieve pain, improve memory, increase confidence levels, and promote weight loss.

Licensed professionals hold master’s degrees in psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, marriage, and alternative healing.


Essential oils contain powerful antioxidants. When inhaled, essential oil molecules enter the bloodstream quickly and easily travel throughout the body via blood vessels.

Studies suggest aromatherapy may ease symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, and PMS.


Neo-Behaviorists believe that human beings possess innate tendencies towards growth and development. To achieve this, neo-behaviorist therapists encourage clients to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. Once identified, clients can maximize their potential to adapt to changes in society.

While there are many psychological therapies out there, it’s important to remember that no single method works for every patient. Depending on your condition and circumstances, you should consider speaking with a licensed healthcare provider prior to beginning any form of therapy.

Role of Therapy Animals

Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) services give comfort and encouragement to individuals living with disabilities or illnesses. AAIs involve pets providing companionship, assistance, and unconditional love to persons suffering alone. Since pet owners suffer loneliness too, AAI gives them someone to relate to and share their lives with.

Therapy animals can be incredibly effective in helping individuals who suffer from the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer
  • Other mental and physical conditions

Therapy animals can also provide relief for individuals who suffer from trauma disorder. These dogs give them a sense of security and ease loneliness. What are some of the other types of therapy for trauma disorders?

Therapy for Trauma Disorders

Mental Health Therapies for Trauma Disorders

Multiple forms of therapy exist for treating trauma disorders. Two of the primary goals are for individuals to understand their condition and regain their self-esteem. The following methods are the most effective courses of action for trauma:

1.     Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

This 12-week treatment includes clients talking about the traumatic event at the center of their issue. They’ll write in detail about what happened in an effort to examine what happened and find new ways to live with this event.

2.     Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Whenever something has been avoided because of trauma, PE helps clients confront these issues. Normally they’re exposed for 90 minutes each for up to 15 sessions until they’re more comfortable with the object of their fears.

3.     Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Individuals concentrate on their trauma while they watch or listen to something the therapist is doing. This includes moving a hand or clicking a button. The goal is to be able to remember something positive while thinking about trauma.

4.     Stress Inoculation Training

This is a form of CBT. Massages and breathing techniques are used to relax the individual to develop skills to release added stress in their lives.

5.     Medication

Medications are used to bridge gaps between neurotransmitters and other parts of the mind and body. Certain medications help treat chemical imbalances in the brain. Additionally, they also stop flashbacks and nightmares related to trauma.

Group and individual therapy can be helpful. The most significant difference is the setting in which these two types of therapies occur.

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Group vs. Individual Therapy Settings

Individual therapy settings take place with the client and therapist only. These meetings normally occur in the therapist’s office or at inpatient rehab facilities.

Clients normally meet daily during inpatient settings. During normal office hours, therapists meet weekly or bi-weekly with clients.

Group therapy settings take place during inpatient and outpatient treatment. Multiple clients meet with the assistance of a group leader or counselor. These individuals will share stories and experiences for therapeutic relief and camaraderie.

Additionally, these meetings also take place during 12-step recovery groups outside of treatment programs.

Recently, one of the most effective forms of treatment has been dual diagnosis.

Dual Diagnosis and Effective Treatment

Dual diagnosis has most recently been one of the most popular forms of treatment for mental health disorders in combination with substance abuse disorders. This form of treatment actually remedies underlying mental health conditions that further complicate or lead to substance abuse.

This has been one of the most effective forms of dual treatments, leading to longer windows of recovery with no relapses.

It’s important to find a facility that includes dual diagnosis or other therapy that meets your needs. This way, you understand what to expect, allowing you to help construct your treatment plan.

Choosing a Therapy That Meets Your Needs

It’s important to choose a therapy that meets your needs. You must have all past and present mental health issues and challenges compiled and ready to share with your therapist. This is the most effective way to ensure you receive a proper assessment.

After your assessment, a specific form of therapy is recommended to meet your needs.

What to Expect from Therapy?

During therapy, you can expect regular meetings with counselors and participation in one of the strategies mentioned above. You’ll receive a treatment plan with goals and a timeline.

You can expect multiple one-on-one meetings and possible group meetings if our therapist prescribes it. Additional therapeutic activities may also be available.

Get the Best Results from Mental Health Therapies with Icarus Behavioral Health

Getting the best results from therapy is only possible with a healthy client/treatment team relationship. At Icarus Behavioral Health, we strive to forge these relationships to help you toward long-term recovery.

To find out how we can start your recovery journey, contact one of our admissions specialists today.

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