When people are physically unwell, the natural response is to seek assistance right away. If the illness cannot be resolved through rest, natural home remedies, or over-the-counter medication, most people do their best to seek help from a professional. In their hearts and minds, they know that doctors and other health workers have the equipment and know-how to cure their body’s ailments.
The same should be true for mental health problems as internal instability affects both mental and physical functioning. Contrary to what some may think, mental health problems do not just occur to certain types of people.
They may occur to people of all ages, genders, races, cultures, or socio-economic backgrounds. Everyone experiences problems in life that may lead to internal instability which is why at some point in everyone’s life there is that need to resolve an emotional or mental issue.
The Need for Professional Help
Similar to physical ailments, it is true that some issues like work stress, stress at school, or emotional disappointment can be resolved through rest, meditation, or leisurely pursuits. This is one reason why a healthy work-life or study-life balance is being promoted in most institutions to ensure people do not get burned out.
But there are also other problems that really require the assistance of a professional therapist. Addiction, anger issues, childhood disorders, depression, eating disorders, learning disorders, severe anxiety, and trauma are just some of the reasons why professional help is needed as these are very difficult to resolve on one’s own.
However, as in physical health issues, a person should not have to wait until their mental or emotional health problem has reached severely damaging levels (e.g. failing grades, loss of a job, relationship issues, or suicidal thoughts). If there is a need for counseling to get back on track, then the person should seek help soon.
The Frequency of Mental Health Treatment
Perhaps one reason why people are hesitant to get professional help is that they wrongly think such treatment always involves checking into an institution or visiting the therapist several times a week, costing them much time and money. This is why many hold off seeking help until something really bad occurs.
Just like physical problems, the actual number of times a person needs to see their counselor depends upon the severity of the problem. Substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and severe trauma are just some of the major issues that may require prolonged or more frequent treatment.
But for other concerns, depending upon the advice of the counselor, therapy may just be for an hour or two a week; once every other week; or even once a month. What is important is that the client receives the assistance they need to get better emotionally and mentally.
What Happens in Mental Health Treatment
What occurs in the treatment greatly depends on the issues that the person is undergoing and the type of counseling they might like to have. For some issues, it may be best for a person to just be alone with the therapist, especially if they have been having difficulty opening up to others. The presence of other people in the room, such as one’s parents, may just complicate matters.
But in other situations, it is more helpful if the person is counseled together with their spouse or family members as the entire family relationship may have been disrupted (e.g. family trust issues brought about because of addiction, anger management, or infidelity). With the help of the counselor acting like an impartial referee, family issues can be better resolved as members feel that they have now been given a fair platform for them to voice their resentments, fears, and suggestions.
Mental Health Treatment Methods
Regardless if the treatment is done alone or as a group, the following are some possible methods that may be employed by the therapist:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Treatment that aims to modify the person’s attitudes and behaviors by changing how they think. After identifying the client’s negative thought patterns and actions, the person is asked to replace them with something positive.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): This is a form of CBT that is very helpful for those suffering from trauma. After determining the patient’s automatic reactions to their traumatic thoughts, they are then asked to consider them logically so that their reactions can be modified.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This is similar to CBT but with more emphasis on emotional and social aspects. It was developed for those suffering from extreme emotions (mood disorders, suicidal thoughts) and behaviors (self-harm, substance abuse).
Experiential Therapy: This is a treatment form that uses expressive activities (e.g. animal care, arts, and crafts, role-play) to re-experience emotional situations that are affecting the person. Once these negative emotions have been identified, the person is taught how to release them properly.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This is another form of therapy used for trauma. It allows the patient to recall frightening experiences and talk through them without reliving the fearful emotions.
Lifespan Integration: A treatment form where the person’s timeline is used to help them revisit past trauma and then modify how they currently think and behave. This is particularly helpful for those who have “memory gaps” of negative experiences that have been hurting them in the present.
Solution-Focused Therapy: This is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes solution-building. Rather than dwelling on past problems, the focus is on current strengths and how to use them to achieve future goals.
4 Difficulties When Seeking Mental Health Treatment
It is often said that the hardest part is taking that first step, and this is undoubtedly true when seeking mental help therapy. But once that decision is finally made, the unfortunate reality is that finding a good therapist can sometimes be a challenge unto itself.
1. The Initial Contact
A common complaint is that it is difficult to contact a therapist. Though a quick Google search may reveal a number of options, actually getting an appointment can be hard. Despite leaving several messages in the therapist’s voice mail, email, or cell phone inbox, many clients grumble that they were never contacted.
One reason is that not all therapists regularly update their online information, so clients have been using the wrong contact details. Though the whole point of having a website is to easily keep others informed, not all therapists have the skill or time to easily do so on their own, which is why updates may come later on.
And the other reason is that sometimes therapists are just too busy. Just like in other professions, when one is bombarded with work, sometimes getting back to all the calls, texts, and emails can be quite tiring and difficult – even if one knows that there is a loss of potential business.
2. The Cost of Therapy
A big worry is that of costs (which is why some people hold back until it is too late). Mental health treatment can be quite pricey. Aside from the office overhead costs and necessary continuing education, most therapists limit the number of patients they see each week to ensure quality treatment, making it difficult for them to charge lower rates.
Mental and emotional issues are not as straightforward as many of the physical ailments. Some medical doctors are able to see 20 patients or more a day as they only need 10 to 20 minutes to diagnose the problem and prescribe the treatment. Mental health therapists, however, try to limit their patients to just 25 to 30 clients a week.
Opening up and discussing past abuses, emotional struggles, or future fears takes a lot of time and requires careful navigation lest something more goes wrong. Therapists must ensure that they are not pressured into finishing quickly just because another client is on the way; hence, the higher rates.
3. Finding the Therapist that Works Best with You
Despite having contacted a therapist and having enough funds for treatment, another difficulty is determining whether the therapist is a good fit. Just like in other fields where a good working relationship is necessary (e.g. coaching, teaching), it is important that both therapist and client mesh well.
Mental and emotional therapy requires a special bond where the client feels comfortable and safe enough to truly share their deepest emotions, thoughts, and experiences. If not, recovery can be quite difficult as there may be lingering issues that can erase any positive gains if left unresolved.
This is one reason why many therapists offer a risk-free initial assessment. Aside from discussing the therapy details (e.g. costs, treatment method, possible schedule), both the therapist and the client get a chance to learn more about one another. A client should not be hesitant to ask all the questions they may have about the therapist’s education, clinical experience, and even professional setbacks they may have had.
4. Adjusting to Medication
One final challenge is the client’s reaction to medication. In many cases, treatment for mental and emotional issues may involve the use of medication. Though this is not the solution to the problem, medication is often needed to reduce hormonal imbalances, relieving the mental health symptoms.
But just like in physical ailments, not everybody responds in the same way to particular drugs. Some medications require a month or more before the full effect can be felt. Other times, there may be a period of trial and error as the therapist determines the right drug for a particular patient.
Christian Counseling for Mental Health Treatment
Through insolence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel. – Proverbs 13:10
Mental and emotional issues can really take a toll on a person’s life, hurting themself and others. This is why mental health treatment is very important, even if it may take some time to find the right help.
However, whenever possible, it is best to seek Christian counseling. Similar to secular therapy, the latest therapeutic techniques will be used to help the person overcome their mental or emotional issues.
As many of these internal issues cannot be resolved on one’s own, professional guidance is necessary to identify the hurtful past experiences and then deal with them in the present through positive thinking and changes in behavior.
But more importantly, the faith-based counselor will introduce the person to the saving power of God through prayer and meditation on Holy Scripture.
Those suffering from mental or emotional issues often have spiritual doubts, which is why it is crucial that they develop a strong and true relationship with Jesus Christ. If the person’s spiritual life is strong, then the mental and emotional aspects will be greatly strengthened as well.
If you or a friend is suffering from mental or emotional issues, seek Christian counseling soon. It is only with God’s help that true healing can be achieved.
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