There are a number of ways to find a therapist, including asking friends and family for referrals, searching online or through your health insurance provider. Finding a therapist you feel comfortable with is essential.
A therapist’s approach has more to do with their personality, skills and expertise than the type of degree or license they hold.
Humanistic therapy focuses on the individual as a whole. The therapist will support the direction you take each session, trusting that you know what you need to talk about in order to work through the difficulties that brought you to therapy.
A therapist who practices humanistic therapy will offer empathy and unconditional positive regard. They will be non-directive and act as a guide to help you find wisdom, healing, and growth through exploring your thoughts and emotions.
While humanistic therapists may not focus on specific disorders, they tend to share a core belief in the value of self-actualization and the natural ability and tendency for individuals to reach their full potential. Some of the most common approaches that fall under this umbrella include Gestalt therapy, client-centered therapy, and existential therapy.
If you’re interested in trying humanistic therapy, ask your primary health care provider for a referral or check an online therapist directory to find a therapist who specializes in this type of counseling. Be aware that this style of treatment isn’t as structured as other types of therapy and might not address a mental health diagnosis.
In this type of therapy, the therapist focuses on how clients experience their lives. It aims to help them become more self-aware and understand their role in their own unhappiness or discomfort.
This is achieved by using various techniques, including phenomenological experimentation. This involves observing and analysing the client’s behaviour, body language and verbal communication to understand their field dynamics.
The gestalt theory of field dynamics suggests that people develop mental health symptoms because they don’t have good awareness of their senses and emotions, or of their body. It teaches that the best way to heal these feelings is to allow them to be expressed in the present.
One of the most common gestalt techniques is called “topdog-underdog dialogue.” This is when the therapist notices that there are two opposing attitudes/opinions within a client. They then encourage the client to play each part of their character in a dialogue, allowing each side to express their thoughts and feelings.
Unlike other psychotherapeutic approaches that focus on diagnosing mental health conditions and relieving symptoms, existential therapy focuses on a person’s lived experiences without suppressing difficult or distressing emotions or thoughts. Instead, existential therapists view problems as a way to forge meaning in one’s life and encourage the exploration of an individual’s authentic existence.
Existential theory recognizes four major “givens” of human existence that cause inner conflict: the fact that you are responsible for your choices, that you have freedom to create a meaningful life, that you will ultimately be alone, and that death is inevitable. Existential therapists help you deal constructively with these existential challenges by helping you confront anxiety, make authentic choices, and accept your responsibility for your choices.
As with humanistic therapy, existential therapy can be effective for a variety of psychological and behavioral issues. However, it is important to note that not all therapists who practice this approach are the same. Existential therapists must be mindful of their own biases and values as they work with clients, and they must foster a supportive and collaborative therapeutic relationship.
Integrative or Holistic Therapy
A holistic approach can be used to treat a variety of mental and physical health conditions. It treats the whole person and all aspects of their life including environment, lifestyle and emotional/spiritual factors. It is sometimes combined with medical treatment as part of a care plan.
Exercises in holistic therapy often focus on three levels, the body, emotions and the mind/soul. The initial body exercises utilize massage and bodywork techniques to release areas of tension that conceal deeply repressed emotions. Once those emotions are released, therapists may help individuals understand their significance in their lives.
Holistic psychotherapy looks at the body, emotions and spirit to increase awareness and self-acceptance in a supportive environment. It also encourages wellness practices that promote balance for a lasting recovery. This is a great option for those who have issues that don’t have a defined cause and are interested in finding long-term healing and wellness. Some examples of holistic wellness practices include acupuncture, yoga and meditation.