Psychotherapy (cont.)

Interpersonal Therapy for Depression

Interpersonal therapy focuses on the behaviors and interactions a depressed patient has with family, friends, co-workers, and other important people encountered on a day-to-day basis. The primary goal of this therapy is to improve communication skills and increase self-esteem during a short period of time. It usually lasts three to four months and works well for depression caused by loss and grief, relationship conflicts, major life events, social isolation, or role transitions (such as becoming a mother or a caregiver).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) includes several different approaches to therapy, all of which focus on how thinking affects the way a person feels and acts. The idea of cognitive behavioral therapy is that you can change your way of thinking about a situation, and when you do, you also change the way you feel and act. As a result, you can feel better, and behave differently in response to life stresses, even when the situation stays the same.

While other approaches to therapy rely heavily on analyzing and exploring people's relationship with the world around them, the focus of CBT is on learning. The therapist functions in many ways similar to a teacher. He or she guides the client through the process of learning how to change his or her way of thinking and then how to act on that learning. Because there is a specific goal and a process for arriving at it, CBT is often more narrowly focused. It also is typically completed in less time than other therapies.

Two examples of different types of CBT are:

  • Rational emotive behavior therapy or REBT. REBT focuses on the way emotions affect thinking and actions. It helps the client recognize that the intensity of negative emotions can change the quality of his or her thinking. The result is often overreaction and loss of perspective. The emphasis of therapy then is on learning how to restore emotional balance by thinking more realistically about situations.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. DBT emphasizes the validity of a person's behavior and feelings and reassures the individual that those feelings and behaviors are understandable. At the same time, it encourages the individual to understand that the responsibility for changing unhealthy or disruptive behavior is his or her own.

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