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How to choose a therapist? Part 6

Therapy Modes

Many therapists are introduced to a range of techniques during their training. Some continue to work flexibly between them, while others commit to and develop their expertise in one over the course of their careers. The most commonly encountered modes of therapy are discussed below. Remember that the structure, form and techniques you encounter during the sessions differ from therapist to therapist and are guided by their orientation, goals, experience and the age of the patient/s worked with. Individual Therapy This is the form of therapy that most have in mind when we think of the word 'therapy'. It involves a therapist in one chair and a patient/client in the other, either face to face or with one (hopefully the patient) lying on the couch. Sometimes this setup forms the whole therapy, and sometimes it's used in combination with other modes, e.g. group or couples therapy.  Couples Therapy Usually attended by romantic partners, but some therapists also see people experiencing difficulties in friendships, work relationships or even between neighbours. Couples tend to seek couples therapy during a relationship breakdown or crisis. This might be because of infidelity, built up resentment, poor communication, financial difficulties, or ongoing parenting conflicts. Therapy can either help resolve the underlying issues or help the couple to separate while continuing to meet their responsibilities, e.g. parenting or work demands. Some couples attend couples therapy to improve their already functioning relationship and achieve greater intimacy and depth. Couples therapy can also be a useful place for an engaged couple to begin to anticipate and prepare for difficulties, e.g. differences in values, religion or culture.  Family Therapy Family therapy helps whole families resolve conflict and improve their interaction and communication. At least two members of the family attend, but more is beneficial since family therapists aim to work with the dynamics affecting the family system in general.  Group Therapy Group therapy usually refers to one of four things: support groups, skills groups, teaching groups or psychotherapy groups. As the name suggests, support groups aim to provide a supportive space for people to meet others facing similar problems. These can be either peer- or professionally-led. Skills and teaching groups are a little like classes and provide psycho-education or coping skills for focused issues (e.g. dealing with a panic attack). Psychotherapy groups are sometimes called process groups. These groups use the process of the group in therapeutic ways (e.g. an opportunity to discover how other people see you and experience life). Each of these kinds of groups can be constituted in different ways, e.g. long term or short term, similar ages or a range of ages, similar difficulties or a range of challenges etc.  Group therapy is an efficient and effective mode of intervention both by itself and in conjunction with other methods. Running a psychotherapy group is an advanced skill, and it is important to seek therapists who have received additional training in this regard. 

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