FINDING A SATISFYING AND COMPETENT TREATMENT
What Type of Therapy is the Best For Me?
As the consumer of a costly and time-consuming service, this is a reasonable question. Individual therapy is distinct from marital therapy, and both are distinct from group therapy. Drug counseling and substance abuse counseling, as well as therapy that addresses specific sexual dysfunctions, are also distinct, offering a more directed approach that emphasizes behavioral modification and can include assignments.
If a couple is considering therapy, should both partners engage in individual counseling? Or, should the couple try marital therapy or relationship therapy? If a family is struggling, do all members seek individual treatment? Or do they engage in family counseling? And, if a specific problem keeps presenting itself, like anger or depression, or uncomfortable sexual fantasies, or unshakable sadness, should you choose a type of therapy that purports to address that specific problem?
Unlike medicine, where it is fairly understood that a skin problem requires a dermatologist and not a cardiologist, and a toothache requires a dentist, not a pediatrician, therapy is slightly different. Therapy is an undertaking that operates within the purview of human relationship, not outside of it. Consequently, the question “What type of therapy is best for me”? should also look to consider a psychoanalyst’s style, temperament, perspective, and personality, as well as the question, “Which theoretical preference and type of counseling are best”?
Arguably, practitioners in each modality, or area of treatment, believe their work is most effective. Behavioralists or behavioral modification treatment boasts a high success rate, but it has an equally high recidivism rate. See American Journal of Psychiatry, 155:1443-1444 1998.
Psychoanalysts, who must be licensed if practicing in New York State, are trained to understand latent content, or unconscious material, as well as manifest, or literal content. This kind of understanding is helpful when there is a problem maintaining normal functioning for no apparent reason. Current thinking in psychoanalytic theory also suggests that the interpersonal aspect of the treatment is very important.
The best way to answer questions about which treatment is best for you is to participate in a consultation. Here you can present your concerns and goals, and you can ask questions about theoretical orientation and psychoanalytic approach. Additionally, you can test out whether the therapist will be able to offer you a satisfying and competent treatment, since the encounter is live, nuanced, and most clearly able to represent to you what the therapy will be like and feel like.