What is your concern in the therapy?
First of all, you should ask yourself the question: What do I want from the therapy? Do I want to work through my biography in order to gain access to my problems? Then a psychoanalytic approach is a right choice. Would I rather have a therapist who focuses on my current symptoms without working through the past? In that case, a behavioural therapist would be a good choice. But how do I know which one makes more sense for me now? Listen to your gut feeling! You have a feeling for what has happened in your life. For example, if you have been depressed for a long time, if you lost a parent at an early age, and if your depression worsened after a divorce, you may already have an idea that it could be important to look at your biography so that you can feel better again. If, on the other hand, you feel overworked at work, but have not had any significant experiences in your past, then you could choose a therapeutic approach that focuses more on your current problems, such as behavioural therapy.
Individual, couple, group or family therapy?
Another key question is, do you want individual therapy or would you prefer group therapy? Not every therapist offers both and there are many differences between the two.
In individual therapy, you have all the therapist's attention to yourself. You can work on your issues over a longer period of time. The process is very open and not very pre-structured.
In group therapy, you can experience how other people with similar problems feel. You can experience yourself in relation to the others, where you are not only a support seeker but also a supporter. You can also experiment with new behaviours in a protected setting and get feedback on how others are doing. However, the process is usually more pre-structured than in individual therapy and the number of hours is usually limited.
Couples therapy can be useful if you and your partner have the feeling that you are no longer really able to talk to each other, but you don't want to give up the relationship yet. Do you keep falling into the same patterns of arguing? Do you have the feeling that you can no longer get through to the other partner or do you constantly feel misunderstood? This can be quite exhausting. In couples therapy, you try to get to the bottom of the conflicts and come to a better understanding.
In families, changes can occur that can be challenging and stressful. These can be, for example, developmental steps of the children (from baby to toddler, puberty), the loss of the parents' job or an illness of a family member. The different family constellations (single parent, patchwork, rainbow family, foster or adoptive family) also bring challenges for which support is sometimes needed. In such cases, family therapy can be helpful. Here, work is done on a positive change in the relationship between the family members, their communication and mutual understanding.
What therapy methods are there?
Even though the choice of therapy method is not central to its effectiveness, I would still like to give you a brief overview, as it is easy to become confused by the technical terms. Roughly speaking, four different directions can be summarised:
Depth psychological-psychodynamic methods: Here, the development of mental illnesses is understood in such a way that the current problem is based on an inner-psychic conflict, i.e. simply put, that there are contradictory opinions inside you, which you may not even be aware of, but which create a great deal of tension.
Humanistic methods (conversational psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, body psychotherapy, imagination methods, hypnosis, etc.): Here the aim is to understand the person and his or her experience in his or her relationships. The focus is on psychological growth by activating specific resources.
Systemic therapy/family therapy: Here, problems are not seen in an individual person, but as an expression of communication and relationship formation in a system. A system can be, for example, a family or a company. If, for example, a girl has an eating disorder, the whole family is looked at, because this eating disorder is understood to mean that the whole family system has dysfunctional relationship and communication patterns. Here, too, the focus is on a person's resources.
Behavioural therapy: This is based on the assumption that everyone has learned their (problem) behaviour at some point in their life. This in turn also means that they can unlearn it. The therapist focuses on the factors that triggered and maintain the stressful behaviour and what can be done about it. Behaviour therapy sees itself as a kind of "help for self-help".
However, many therapists work across methods, i.e. they use methods from the different therapy procedures. This is important because there are not only four different kinds of people. An individual approach to each person is an important prerequisite.
Sympathy is the most important factor
According to studies, the success of psychotherapy depends not so much on which therapy method you choose, but on the relationship between you and your therapist. You will feel whether a psychotherapist is sympathetic to you in the first few sessions. I would recommend that you make an appointment with two or three different psychotherapists. Even though this may seem strange to you, it is a common procedure, because it is very important that the sympathy fits. Which of the two did you feel more comfortable with? Our therapists at wepractice offer a wide range of experts, all of whom introduce themselves with a photo and a short description. This way you can see at first glance who you like. Every therapy has an initial phase. If you are still unsure, you could first arrange five so-called probationary sessions, i.e. hours on trial, in which you see whether you can find a good way of working together. You could pay attention to the following areas: How do you feel when you leave the sessions? Do you have the impression that the therapist understands your concerns? Does the therapist respond to your questions and is compassionate? Do you feel valued? You can also ask the therapist questions. How does he/she proceed? What do you expect? How do the sessions work? What is his/her focus? How long does the therapy last?
Male or female therapist?
Now you might be asking yourself: to a man or a woman? In principle, male or female therapists do not differ in their effectiveness. But every person has experiences that make it easier or more difficult for them to deal with women or men. For example, if a woman has depression after being sexually assaulted by a man, she will probably feel much more uncomfortable with a male therapist. Again, it is important to listen to your gut. In the above example, therapy can be just as successful with a man as with a woman. However, the choice affects the course of the therapy. The male therapist is likely to get a lot more anger, rage and frustration than a female therapist, as he is, in a sense, representative of the offender. So the question is not where is the therapy more successful, but where do I feel more comfortable or where do I find it easier to open up?
I hope WePractice was able to give you a little more clarity in your search for a suitable psychotherapist and wish you all the best.