Mental Health: Therapy is the New Normal
Nowadays, most of us have either gone to therapy, thought about going for one reason or another, or we know someone who has gone. Getting mental health help and emotional support has never felt more typical than it does right now, thanks to all of the folks out there in the world working to end the social stigma around therapy and mental illness.
However, even though mental health discussions are constantly trending, there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t common knowledge, even for compliance professionals who work in healthcare. But we aim to change that. Compliance officers are in a critical position within an organization. With great power comes great responsibility (like knowing all things healthcare and compliance and where they might overlap).
Types of Psychotherapies (Therapies)
Therapy or “psychotherapy” is based on several theories developed some time ago and has since evolved significantly. Therapists use these theories as a sort of guide on how to understand best and help their clients.
Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies:
Ah, the unconscious. Freud often comes to mind as the “father” of psychoanalysis when the topic comes up. Although ancient cultures, like the ancient Greeks and Persians, understood it and mental illness and treatment. Although Freud contributed greatly to the field, it has significantly evolved since the 1800s. This approach focuses on the subconscious mind and changes problematic behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering the root cause and their meanings and motivations. Therapists help clients explore their life experiences (childhood, etc.) to identify triggers or what’s causing complex or problematic thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Something a therapist might teach a client, for example, is that “if something makes you hysterical, it is probably historical.” Meaning, if something triggers you to feel very strongly, it is probably related to your past.
Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
CBT helps clients change how they think, behave, or process experiences or trauma. For example, a client with severe anxiety might learn to change unhealthy thought processes with a technique called, Name it to Tame It, by telling themselves, “This is anxiety. It lies to me. I am safe, I am loved, I will be okay,” when they find themselves anxious or panicking. If a client is afraid to leave their house, a therapist might suggest they do one small thing every day that gets them closer and closer to going, like opening the front door and closing it, walking to their front step.
Inspired by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Buber, and Søren Kierkegaard, there are three types of humanistic therapy, client-centered, gestalt, and existential therapy. The client-centered treatment essentially focuses on the client-therapist relationship, centering the client as the expert or as much of an expert in their healing and experiences as the therapist. Gestalt therapy empowers patients to feel responsible and in control of their lives and experiences. Existential therapy helps a client to find meaning in their life. Humanistic therapy techniques involve teaching the client that they have power and knowledge, and control of their choices. Integrative or Holistic Therapy: Many therapists use elements from all theories, choosing which part will work best for each client’s unique challenges. Anxiety treatment, for example, might involve EMDR therapy which works on the subconscious mind, mindfulness, which helps to retrain the brain and thought patterns while empowering them to make their own choices and take the responsibility of their healing into their own hands.
What’s The Difference Between Psychiatrists, Psychologists, or Social Workers?
Psychotherapists (therapists) can hold a few different degrees, which can confuse folks looking for someone to work with. The most common degrees you’ll see while searching for someone are:
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW):
A LCSW holds a master’s degree in social work and a state license to practice. Social workers often specialize in one area (like trauma, family, children).
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD; Psychologist):
Therapists with a doctorate in psychology are trained heavily in research and theory. They must also hold a state license.
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D. in psychology; psychologist):
A Ph.D. in psychology focuses on the scientific research of psychotherapy. Folks with a Ph.D. will often go into teaching or research. They’re very well-informed, but criticism can be that they’re far more versed in theory than practicum.
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who went to medical school and specializes in mental health. They must have a medical license to practice.
Holistic Psychiatrist (MD):
A holistic Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who went to medical school and specialized in mental health but believes that to heal the mind, one must heal the entire body as a complete system. They can prescribe medication and give therapy but also look at diet, exercise, meditation (stress reduction), family history, current life struggles, trauma, and anything else that could impact one’s mental health. A treatment plan will include everything that optimizes both the mind and body. For example, they might prescribe medication (or not), therapy, meditation, yoga, learning skills for setting better boundaries, vitamins, diet changes, etc.
Mental Health and Compliance:
Knowledge Equals Prevention
Mental health and wellness aren't going anywhere. More and more patients are seeking treatment for behavioral and mental health conditions because social stigmas are eroding, and patients are more comfortable talking about these things. This means that as compliance professionals, we need to know the ins and outs of mental health services now more than ever.
Compliance officers are in a critical position within an organization, and with great power comes great responsibility. And mental health services, including psychotherapy, have their unique compliance risks. The more we know, the better we can prepare to prevent and mitigate non-compliance.
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