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A person’s mental health is defined as their overall psychological well-being, which includes their emotional, social, and cognitive abilities. Mental health can be good or bad, and it is influenced by a variety of factors such as genetics, environment, lifestyle, and past experiences. Individuals with good mental health can live a fulfilling life, maintain positive relationships, and deal with life’s challenges. Poor mental health, on the other hand, can lead to a variety of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, among others.

Physical and mental health are equally important.

The mental health of a person can have a significant impact on their physical health, and vice versa. Stress and anxiety, for example, can result in physical health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and digestive problems. Similarly, physical health issues can have an impact on a person’s mental health, causing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

Engaging in regular physical exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress, seeking support from friends and family, and seeking professional help if necessary are all ways to promote good mental health. Counseling, medication, and other forms of treatment can be provided by mental health professionals such as therapists, counsellors, and psychiatrists to assist individuals in managing mental health disorders.

It’s not that long ago that psychotherapy was seen as something that you kept a secret. Thankfully times have changed as more people begin to see therapy as a powerful tool for sculpting their mental and emotional wellbeing.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a general term for therapeutically discussing, analysing and implementing a process to control your mental wellbeing. Psychotherapy or just “therapy” is used for defusing emotional distress or behaviour based issues that are holding you back from reaching your potential.

Therapy has a longer-lasting effect in that reduces the risk of a problem returning later as you develop, adopt and adapt the skills and routines required to best emotionally manage your life.

The main principle of therapy is to examine the way you are thinking based on how you feel and react in life’s challenges. The goal is to help you to understand and manage your life circumstances in realtime without these events creating lasting impacts on your wellbeing.

Many symptoms like depression, bipolar disorderstressanxiety and others, can be treated with therapy. Establishing an emotional support system will enable you to effectively handle most life situations as they are presented without the emotional backlash.

There are many types of psychotherapy and therapists may use one or more of them to develop a solution that is unique for you. They often blend elements and customise the treatment according to your individual needs.

Psychotherapy Treatment Services in South Africa

Psychiatry is the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental disorders, emotional disturbances, and abnormal behaviour.

  • Psychotherapy: This is therapeutic treatment provided by a trained mental health professional. It explores emotions and behaviours, as well as environmental, lifestyle and historical influences. The analysis is used to design and implement a unique, effective healing process through changes in thought patterns and lifestyle.
  • Medication: Psychiatric medication rarely cures mental disorders outright. However, it can help with the management of symptoms. In some cases, medication paired with psychotherapy is the most effective way to promote recovery.
  • Self Help Plan: A unique plan to guide and encourage individuals to employ self-implementation of wellness techniques. Self-help plans are prepared in conjunction with a mental health professional and should include ways of dealing with awkward situations.
  • Hospitalisation: In some cases, hospitalisation may be necessary so that a person can be closely monitored, constantly diagnosed and their medications adjusted accordingly.
  • Support Groups: A forum for members to meet and sustain each other towards a shared goal. Support groups usually comprise non-professional peers who have similar problems. It is recommended for patients who have completed professional treatment and wish to further secure their long term wellbeing.

Of the above, the most effective and widely used form of psychiatric treatment for patients suffering from disorders is a combination of psychotherapy and prescribed medication. In some cases, psychotherapy can be applied without the need for medication.

Main types of treatment applied in psychotherapy:

  • Insight therapy helps people to understand their disorder. Once a person knows why they think or act the way they do, they are better equipped to control or change it.
  • Behavioural therapy is about learning how to change from bad behaviour to good behaviour, rather than just knowing what the cause of the negative behaviour is.

Psychiatric medication (biochemical therapy) may be included in the psychotherapy process, if required.

In talk therapy individuals can express their thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental and confidential setting while receiving guidance and support from a trained therapist. Therapy assists individuals in developing coping strategies to manage their emotions and behaviours, improving communication and relationship skills, and gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and their experiences.

  • Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy: This looks at deep-seated issues that you may be unaware of. Unresolved problems from the past can cause reactions like depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, etc. These underlying problems are raised to a level where they can be identified and dealt with.
  • Behavioural therapy: This stimulates a person to engage in positive activities to replace previous negative activities. It fills the vacuum created by no longer engaging in the harmful behaviour. It can also be used to desensitise a person to things they are afraid of (phobias). The aim is to create a feeling of reward, rather than feelings like anxiety, guilt or boredom.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: This is based on the principle that what we think determines how we feel. Negative emotions may stem from false beliefs about ourselves. Correcting the beliefs improves your emotional state. It deals with current thought patterns, rather than past experiences. The therapist encourages looking at things from different angles. Read more here.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy: Used for treating people with suicidal tendencies, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and similar. It teaches them skills so that they can take personal responsibility for changing their behaviour. Read more here.
  • Family therapy: Some conditions require treatment of the entire family unit. Negative patterns in a family unit that cause mental disorders are identified and family members are encouraged to change their habits. Read more here.
  • Interpersonal therapy: Someone who feels unappreciated may get angry and trigger negative reactions from other people. This can lead to breakdowns in relationships. Learning how to manage their feelings and how to discuss things calmly, improves the situation and avoids piling up emotional distress.
  • Group therapy: A group session consists of a therapist and a number of patients. The patients have similar problems and they benefit from noting how other patients handle issues and by getting feedback on their own problems. Talking to peers help people who feel a sense of isolation in other situations.
  • Integrative or holistic therapy: This integrates multiple therapies tailored to the patient’s individual needs. For example, a combination of two individual therapies being applied to the same patient at the same time.
  • Supportive therapy: In these cases, patients are guided and encouraged to develop and implement their own skills. It improves self-esteem, coping skills and social functioning. It empowers them to deal with their mental health conditions on their own, which then reflects back on them in a motivational way through the positive outcomes in other aspects of their lives.

Aside from these more formal types of talk therapies, there are numerous other less formal sources of therapy that can be beneficial for mental health issues. Life coaching, cognitive coaching and recovery coaching can assist individuals in setting and achieving goals and support groups which can provide a safe and supportive environment for people to connect with others who have similar experiences.

Other informal sources of therapy include creative therapies such as art or music therapy, which can help people express and process their emotions nonverbally, and mindfulness-based therapies such as meditation or yoga, which can teach people how to manage their thoughts and feelings in the present moment. Finally, there are numerous talk therapies and other forms of support available to assist individuals in managing mental health issues and improving their overall well-being.

Getting the right help

Some people feel that admitting a problem is a sign of weakness. By hiding it, they unnecessarily open themselves up to a range of distorted behaviour patterns and ultimately prolong their process of healing. Many people do not get appropriate care when they need it. They then may allow the one problem to create a greater problem.

The factor that caused the initial problem becomes obscured in a veil of subsequent problems making it difficult to recognise underlying core driver. The person may function fairly well on the surface and try to conceal the problem.

Time to prioritise yourself

Harness the mental agility to manage your life again. Fine tune your mental-health and wellbeing inside of South Africa’s leading care centre.