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Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, according to Medical News Today “involves a person speaking with a trained therapist who can help them understand certain feelings and behaviors.” There are a variety of different types of structured psychotherapeutic treatment modalities that are used to help treat adults struggling with mental and/ or emotional issues. Three commonly relied upon forms of structured therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. Southern California is home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s by a psychiatrist, Aaron Beck. It is a structured, short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy. CBT is based on the notion that one’s thoughts govern one’s feelings, which in turn affects one’s behaviors. Hence, the way CBT works is that through therapy, an individual will learn to understand that the way they behave has a direct correlation with their personal attitudes and emotional problems. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing personal coping strategies to problem-solve effectively. Through short-term goals, cognitive behavioral therapy will help a client shift his or her thoughts to change his or her feelings, resulting in healthier patterns of behavior. 

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) was developed in the 1970s by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman and is based on the work of Harry Stack Sullivan, Adolf Meyer, and John Bowlby. IPT is a uniquely structured therapeutic modality that is most often used to treat individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, as well as other psychiatric disorders, including substance use disorder. Good Therapy explains “IPT is designed to help people address current concerns and improve interpersonal relationships.” Interpersonal therapy focuses on how a client’s communications and interactions with other people affect his or her own mental health. Through interpersonal therapy an individual will learn to resolve and adjust unhealthy interpersonal problems, resulting in asymptomatic recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. It is founded on the principles of CBT and blends Eastern mindfulness techniques (e.g., awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences) to encourage acceptance and change. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT continues to be the gold standard form of treatment for individuals with BPD and has also shown efficacy in treating other mental health ailments (e.g., substance use disorder, bulimia, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.).

Dialectical behavior therapy is conducted in three different therapeutic settings, each with distinct goals. DBT is comprised of weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly DBT group skills training sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. The one-on-one therapy sessions offer an individual the opportunity to go over any challenging situations that had arisen during the previous week as well as provide a space for the individual to review the lessons learned in the group skills sessions. The weekly DBT group skills training sessions are used to teach and help facilitate fostering skills in four core areas also referred to as the four modules (core mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation). Each module highlights distinct and specific skills that build upon each other. As-needed phone coaching provides an individual with twenty-four-hour access to support between sessions, should a crisis arise. The entire DBT program takes about six months to complete, as six weeks are allocated to each of the four modules. Through dialectical behavior therapy, clients will learn applicable social and emotional skills, healthy coping mechanisms, and use mindfulness techniques to effectively cope with stress, live in the moment, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.