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Modes of Psychotherapy


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Peter Strisik, Ph.D.
Suzanne Strisik, Ph.D.
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Individual Therapy

Just like it sounds, individual therapy is one-to-one work between client and therapist.  Individual therapy is probably the most common mode of therapy and is often used in combination with other approaches such as couples therapy or group therapy.  Individuals come to therapy for a wide range of reasons including life changes, losses, psychological injury, or for a particular disorder such as anxiety or depression.  Some people simply want the supportive environment of an unbiased third party, some people want help in pursuing meaningful life direction.  Within the framework of individual therapy, your psychotherapist can use techniques from one or a variety of theoretical orientations.  Particular therapeutic approaches will vary depending on the therapist, the nature of the need for therapy, and whether the client is a child, adolescent, or adult.

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is primarily for primary partners in or out of marriage, but can include business partners or co-workers.  Couples therapy is most often used when two people have a need to address an incident or problem that has created stress in their relationship.  However, it can also be used to improve satisfactory relationships by deepening mutual understanding.  Couples therapy may also be used as "pre-marital" to help define the relationship, clarify the level of commitment or address preventive concerns.  Couples may enter therapy to address the decision of whether to remain together as a couple or to separate and can also be helpful after a decision to separate has been made.  Couples therapy for separating parents can be particularly helpful in making the transition from primary partners to co-parents and minimize the discord over which children can be particularly sensitive.

The focus usually addresses expectations, relationship patterns, communication dynamics, and issues related to problem-solving.  Sometimes a couple's psychotherapist sees the partners individually, especially when it is important to address childhood issues that are impacting the relationship.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves two or more members of a family (couples therapy is technically a subset of family therapy).  Family therapy is best used when there is a need to address problems or issues that affect family functioning when one or more family members are affected.  While family therapists employ a variety of treatment approaches, family therapy is consistent in emphasizing the entire family as a unit.  This approach to therapy focuses more on inter-relational issues than on an individual's internal concerns.

Group Therapy

Therapy groups can be organized around specific problems such as anxiety problems, sexual abuse, or eating disorders.  They also can be organized according to the type of client, such as adolescents, men, women, couples or parents.   Groups can help lessen members' sense of isolation, provide support around a particular issue, and/or enhance relationships.  Group therapy can be effective as a primary therapy or as an adjunct to other types of therapy.  It can also be a more economical mode of therapy than individual therapy.

Lead by one or two trained therapists, group therapy offers an environment in which members learn and safely practice new ways of thinking, feeling and relating to others.   In general, therapy groups explore difficulties in interpersonal situations which help clients focus on significant relationships and receive feedback from other group members about their interactional patterns.

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