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Therapy 101: Getting Started

Teens spending time together after therapy

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What Is Therapy?

Therapy, also known as talk therapy and psychotherapy, is the process of meeting with a mental health professional to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, illnesses, and/or somatic responses (sensations in the body). 

Some things therapy can address include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disorders
  • Career guidance
  • Phobias
  • Relationship issues

How Can You Benefit from Therapy?

Whether you are involved in individual, couple, group, or family therapy, your relationship with your therapist is confidential and goal-driven. You can expect your therapist to be someone who supports you, listens attentively, models a healthy and positive relationship experience, gives you appropriate feedback, and follows ethical guidelines. Good therapy should be tailored to you and your experiences.

Some benefits of therapy are:

  1. Improved communication skills
  2. Learn to resolve conflict
  3. Treat mental health conditions
  4. Improve relationships with family and friends
  5. Develop coping skills and strategies
  6. Change negative thought patterns
  7. Improve productivity 

What’s the difference?

Psychologist: Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in psychology and are skilled at assessing, diagnosing, and treating behavioral dysfunctions and psychological issues. Psychologists focus on providing psychotherapy to help patients, but cannot prescribe medication. 

Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) who prescribe medication, diagnose illnesses, manage treatment plans, and provide a wide range of therapies for complex and serious mental illnesses. Typically, psychiatrists do not focus on providing talk therapy to patients but can provide that service if needed.

Therapist: The term “therapist” is a generic term that refers to a licensed counselor or psychologist trained to treat mental illness without the use of medication. While psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy, they usually do not refer to themselves as therapists. 

When Should You See a Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist?

If you are struggling with a mental health issue that you know or suspect requires medication, you may want to consider seeing a psychiatrist who will be able not to diagnose, prescribe, and manage the medication(s) you need. 

If you are going through a difficult time and want to better understand what’s happening in your life, then reaching out to a psychologist might be a great first step. A psychologist can provide different types of therapy options that could be appropriate for you and your mental health care needs.

Are There Different Types of Therapy?

Yes! Some different types of therapy include, but are not limited to:

  • Child psychology
  • Art therapy
  • Animal therapy
  • Trauma-focused therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Family therapy

Each type of therapy listed above has different focuses, use different approaches, and is useful for addressing various illnesses and concerns. You may want to consider researching different types of therapy to see what fits you best. 

Do you need help?

We know it’s hard to take the next step. To start therapy today, please visit our program page with Betterhelp. Fill out the form for financial assistance if needed, and reach out to us at (510) 206-1103 if you have any questions.




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