WHAT GOES ON

Men's Health (Australia) - - A+ - IN THERE?

“Ther­apy” can mean a lot of dif­fer­ent things. Cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy, or CBT, tends to be short-term, col­lab­o­ra­tive and so­lu­tions-based, help­ing to equip you with strate­gies for cop­ing with dif­fi­cult thoughts or emo­tions. “You may think you’ve been painted into a cor­ner [by life], and all of a sud­den talk­ing with a ther­a­pist re­veals there’s a hid­den door you can exit and go into an­other room and try some­thing else out,” says Stephen Hin­shaw, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy. CBT can help you recog­nise un­pro­duc­tive pat­terns of think­ing and learn to re­shape your thoughts. For in­stance, you might catch your­self fall­ing into black-and­white think­ing (maybe that ei­ther you’re great or you’re ter­ri­ble), and your ther­a­pist can teach you to find a third pos­si­bil­ity.

An­other ap­proach, psy­cho­dy­namic ther­apy (which in­cludes psy­cho­anal­y­sis), is more open-ended and less tar­geted. It can in­volve ex­plor­ing themes in your life and mind or be aimed at pro­cess­ing past trauma. “Those folks are more likely to ask you to do a deep dive into your ex­pe­ri­ences and spend a lot of time un­pack­ing your past,” says Pow­ell. It’s like ar­chae­ol­ogy: you find stuff be­neath the sur­face of your mind and dust it off in the ther­a­pist’s of­fice so it makes sense to you and won’t haunt you.

Be­yond these two big cat­e­gories, you can find group ther­apy, sin­gle-ses­sion ther­apy and a full deck of other op­tions. No mat­ter the style, it’s con­fi­den­tial. Get­ting the most out of ther­apy of­ten in­volves dis­cussing sen­si­tive sub­jects – sex, money, drugs, anger, fear, shame – and con­fi­den­tial­ity makes that pos­si­ble. What’s said be­tween you and your ther­a­pist stays that way, with only the rarest ex­cep­tions, such as if a client is a risk to their own or some­one else’s safety.

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