There exists in the world a definite stigma against both mental illness and the therapeutic interventions designed to treat it. Therapists often find themselves treating recalcitrant individuals or those with inaccurate assumptions and expectations about the therapeutic process. They expect to come into the office of a middle to late aged man, where they will recline on a couch and tell their life story. The therapist will take mysterious notes and contemplate seriously what he hears, and they will leave not feeling better at all. Modern therapy, however, rarely resembles this concept much at all, and modern therapies are based on diverse theories. Some of the more common are explained here.
- Rogerian Theory: Also called person-centered, this theory was developed by Carl Rogers in a rejection of traditional therapy methods. This theory holds that all people are capable of self-actualization and positive change and should be trusted to make their own decisions. This changes the relationship between client and therapist, and a Rogerian therapist does not take charge, instead they use an unconditional positive regard that allows the client to develop the confidence to direct themselves. While this theory has been received with success, it does not have a great deal of research behind it.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Unlike the previous theory, CBT is by no means lacking in scientific research. This theory states that problem behaviors are the result of emotions and thoughts that are inaccurate or from a negative perspective. By coming to understand those thoughts and feelings, and retrain those thoughts, a person can eliminate damaging behaviors. The relationship between therapists and clients in this type of therapy is collaborative, with the client taking an active role in their own treatment.
- Mindfulness Based Behavioral Therapies: The practice of mindfulness is designed to focus an individual?s attention on the present moment, teaching them to live in non-judgemental acceptance of themselves and their lives. This practice has been combined with other therapies, notably CBT, to treat depression and anxiety in adults, with positive results.
Individuals with a mental illness do themselves no good by allowing an outdated, stereotypical view of therapy and therapists deter them from receiving treatment. With the range of treatment modalities available, there is a method for every individual, so anyone experiencing mental health difficulties should start researching what options are available to them today.