Behavior therapists understand “behavior” not only to be actions that are visible from the outside, but also thoughts, feelings and physical processes. They assume that behavior is largely learned. This means that people can “unlearn” burdensome thought and behavior patterns and learn helpful new ones.
In behavioral therapy, the patient is supported in understanding and overcoming his difficulties. In this sense, behavior therapy is a help for self-help. Patient and therapist look at concrete problem situations together where the patient z. B. would have liked to have reacted differently or felt differently. Such excerpts should make it possible to understand why the patient behaves in the same way. The life history and current living conditions of the patient are also included in these considerations. Possible solutions are developed and tried out in the next step. The patient then checks in his everyday life how helpful the solution strategies are and brings his experiences back into the therapy. In this way, patient and therapist work together as equals. Problematic behaviors are often questioned and new ones tried out.
Other elements of behavioral therapy are psycho education (information about the disease in question and its treatment), confrontation with feared situations (exposure), also outside the therapy room, and targeted training of skills and competencies (e.g. social competencies such as “saying no” or “making contact”. ’ but also stress management and relaxation).
In psychoanalysis, the so-called “unconscious” is in the foreground. In this type of therapy, it is assumed that unconscious conflicts and experiences in the past (especially in childhood) cause and maintain mental illnesses. The unconscious conflicts determine the image that a person has of himself and others, his relationships, his feelings, thoughts and actions.
The therapist supports the patient in making these unconscious conflicts and their effects on the present visible. They should come alive again in the here and now so that the patient can understand and work on them together with the therapist.
The patient lies on a sofa and has no eye contact with the therapist. This has the advantage that the patient can fully concentrate on his thoughts, feelings and inner images. Analytical psychotherapy usually takes place as a long-term therapy with sessions several times a week.
Psychotherapy based on depth psychology
Depth psychological therapy has its origins in psychoanalysis, but the forms of therapy differ in terms of their duration, therapy concept and therapy goal.
The therapy focuses on those basic psychological conflicts that are currently effective. By discussing previous experiences and behavior patterns, the patient should understand his current problems. In addition, the therapist supports the patient in activating existing but unconscious abilities in order to solve the current problems. In contrast to psychoanalytic therapy, so-called “regressive processes” (i.e. a relapse to earlier stages of personality development, which can manifest itself in tearfulness and defiance, for example) are to be limited here.
Cognitive psychotherapy assumes that every person has the ability for self-healing, problem solving and personal growth. The person concerned is the “expert on himself”.
The development and healing process is supported in client-centered psychotherapy by the fact that the therapist empathizes with the thoughts and feelings of the person concerned and gives the patient feedback on what he/she has experienced – without judging them. The therapist leaves enough space for the patient, does not set themes for him, and offers him no advice or interpretations. Instead, feelings that are currently arising in the situation are discussed again and again. The therapist is open and honest with the patient and accepts them unconditionally. In the course of therapy, the patient should learn to understand and accept themselves.
Systemic (family) therapy
Systemic family therapy includes the relationships between the members of a family when considering a mental illness. The problem or the illness, but also the strengths are not only seen in the individual, but in the entire “system”, i.e. in the family or among colleagues. Systemic treatment can be carried out as family therapy, but also as couple therapy or individual therapy.
In systemic family therapy, the independence and self-esteem of each family member should be strengthened, communication and exchange between family members should be improved, and damaging relationship patterns should be recognized and changed.