Types of psychotherapy to treat depression

Types of psychotherapy

There are a number of psychotherapeutic procedures. In the context of the treatment of depression, the statutory health insurance funds in Germany cover three therapeutic procedures. These are presented on this page [3].

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is currently the most extensively studied type of psychotherapy for depression and combines two therapeutic approaches: the cognitive and the behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy primarily focuses on moods and thoughts. From a cognitive perspective, negative thought patterns and feelings such as self-doubt are not necessarily the result of experiencing a difficult situation or interaction, but rather the consequence of our personal judgement ascribed to that difficult situation. Behavioral therapy specifically targets actions and behavior. The theory states that all behavior that we exhibit nowadays was learned by us at a certain point in time and can therefore be “unlearned” again. The combination of the two approaches (CBT) aims to identify and gradually change maladaptive behavior and distorted thinking patterns, in order to subsequently influence the mood and help the individual to acquire more suitable and helpful behavior [6,7].

Psychoanalytical Approaches

Both psychodynamic therapy as well as psychoanalytical therapy find their roots in traditional psychoanalysis. The goal of both approaches is to uncover and examine unconscious conflicts that are thought to be the cause of the depression. It is assumed that early experiences from the past (e.g., childhood) result in intrapsychic tensions, shaping our current experience, as well as our present relationships and views of the world. Psychoanalytical approaches focus on exploring these experiences, seeking to understand how past events impact the present mental and physical health. The underlying concept is that the gained insights will alleviate patients of the internal tensions, created by the previously unconscious inner conflict, and enable them to respond more flexibly and effectively to challenging situations [6,7].

Systemic Therapy

In systemic therapy, mental disorders, like all human behavior, are not examined as isolated occurrences, but are considered as parts of a larger system [8], thus always also including the sociocultural, -economic, and personal relational context. This means that the focus of the therapy is not solely limited to the patient and his or her symptoms, but rather that the entire environment of the patient (e.g. family, work context, school), as well as their associated relationships, are taken into account. For this reason, this type of therapy will often include significant relationships (e.g. family members, partners, children, or friends) in the treatment [7]. In systemic therapy, the aim is to identify problematic behavioral patterns that were still useful back when they were acquired, but have since led to conflicts in the system due to a lack of alternative solutions. The goal is to reduce stress and conflict, by replacing these old behavioral patterns with improved, more appropriate systems of interaction [9].

Published on 06.04.2022

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