It doesn’t matter if you’re going through a specific crisis, like grief, or if you just want to get to know yourself better. There are times in life when we don’t know how to handle a situation, and at those times, the help of a therapist can make all the difference. It can work as a guide to walk the path – even if it is up to the patient to walk it.
But how to choose the best professional to help?
The most important thing is the relationship that is established with the psychologist, since it is he who will accompany this journey. As with any relationship, what works for some may not work for others. This is where the type of therapeutic approach comes in, such as the techniques used in each session, in addition to the professional’s own way of conducting.
This is because, regardless of the line, all aspects have exactly the same objective: to help the patient in the process of self-knowledge and alleviate the mental suffering he is going through.
“It is a work of resignification and care”, says psychologist Thais Martins, from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein. “The patient has to identify with the way they are being guided and cared for.”
Therefore, this “chemistry” is the first clue to whether the sessions are working and whether the process is worth following. “This relationship is cultivated, built. It is difficult to establish this bond in a single session”, recalls Martins.
Time to give up?
A lot of people give up at the first one or think they shouldn’t go to therapy because they didn’t like that experience – not knowing that with another person or another technique the result could be completely different. “It’s important to see if you’re okay, noticing how you feel, if that makes sense.” If so, go to another professional.
On the other hand, some warning signs show that there is something totally wrong in the sessions: the psychotherapist cannot in any way impose his worldviews, prejudices, beliefs, nor tell the patient what to do. “It’s a space of speech and experience for the patient, not the therapist.”
Also, it’s not about giving advice. It is the patient who will come to their own conclusions and answers: “It is a process that is much more inward than outward, which sometimes generates more questions”, explains the Einstein specialist.
In this process, there are no ready-made formulas, easy answers and standardized solutions. It also relies heavily on the person’s openness, including to touch on thorny themes. Depending on the purpose of therapy and the profile of each one, it can take weeks, months and even years.
Although for the layman it does not make much difference to know what is behind each therapeutic approach, some information can help guide this choice.
There are several lines and each of them has several aspects. But, whatever the patient’s option, it is important to find out if the professional has specific training courses in the area, if he is part of institutions and societies, among other references.
Below are some of the more traditional aspects:
It is perhaps the best known due to the fame of its founder, Sigmund Freud. It seeks the unconscious origin of the conflicts and sufferings that the person experiences, causing symptoms such as anxiety or relationship difficulties, for example. There are several lines within it (Freudians, Lacanians, among others). In the most classic, the couch is used, the patient has his back to the analyst, who usually remains silent. But not all professionals work like that. The patient speaks whatever comes to mind. The idea is for him to make free associations and, with the help of the therapist, be able to interpret the content.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
The aim is to elucidate the relationships between thinking, cognition, emotions and behavior to understand why a person develops certain patterns of behavior. It is a more practical approach, with well-defined therapeutic goals. Therefore, the sessions include a well-structured agenda, including the topics to be covered, and may include exercises, lists and goals. The proposal is to help the patient to find more adequate solutions to their problems. Here the therapist takes a more active role, prompting insights.
It uses dramatization techniques, with role-playing, to provoke reflections that help the person to understand their behavior in each situation. Therefore, in addition to verbal language, he also uses body language, role-playing and exercises to explore possibilities for solving problems.
It starts from the premise that human beings have the ability to choose, being responsible for their own history. It works with the present, without excluding memories of the past and perspectives for the future. From the context in which the person is inserted, it helps to identify the meaning of each situation and to become aware.