What is psychotherapy? There are many different answers to this question, depending upon whom you ask. In general, psychotherapy can be defined as talk therapy. It is a process by which the patient and therapist explore together the symptoms felt by the patient with the goal of relieving his or her discomfort. Psychotherapy is more than talking over problems with your friends, it is more than finding answers in self-help books, or from television or radio psychologists. It is a medical procedure best performed by physicians aimed at the treatment of real problems.
There are many different types of psychotherapy practiced by many different types of practitioners. Training and experience can vary widely between types of practitioners and even individual practitioners of the same level, so it is important to have a true understanding of the type of practitioner you are seeing (M.D. or D.O., Ph.D., M.S.W., etc.) and the level of their experience in the treatment of your type of condition.
Although all therapy has the same goal – the relief of symptoms, different schools of thought have developed over the years. Certain types of conditions respond better to certain types of therapies. A patient may do better with one type of therapist than another. A patient with limited time, access to care, and a very mild condition may respond better to short-term problem-oriented treatment. Patients whose symptoms are causing more anxiety, depression, work, marital, or interpersonal problems may benefit from more insight-oriented therapy. Cognitive or behavioral therapy may also work well for some patients who need more understanding of their behavior and techniques with which to change it. While most therapy done by Dr. Belkin is based in psychoanalytic and psychodynamic treatment, he uses a combination of therapies depending upon the specific needs of a patient, the desires of the patient, and what he feels will help the patient most in the most reasonable length of time.
Depression and anxiety are the two most common reasons for presentation to my office. Daily stresses, family issues, marital issues, finances or a multitude of other reasons can cause significant symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Even a mild level of depression or anxiety can be quite disturbing to a person. The lack of interest in one's activities, one's hobby, or one's job can be early symptoms of depression. Anger, irritability, arguments at work or home also can signify that a person is suffering from depression or anxiety. When one does not want to get out of bed in the morning, whether it is because of a lack of energy or because of a fear of what the day will bring is a symptom that needs treatment. Constant or intermittent nervousness or a feeling of not being comfortable in one's own skin is another symptom of anxiety.
Treatment for these disorders is available. As with many psychiatric problems, the primary course of treatment is psychotherapy. Generally, my practice concentrates on insight- oriented psychotherapy for these disorders, but other forms of dynamically-informed treatment are necessary in certain instances. Some patients need reassurance that their symptoms are normal and will go away once the stressors are removed and when they accept this, their depression and anxiety abates.
In some cases, medication treatment is needed. There are several medications available for the treatment of depression and anxiety and these can be effective when used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Although the doctors do not accept patients requiring complex or solely medication treatment, it is important in cases requiring adjunctive medication, that the psychiatrist prescribing the medication be the professional providing the therapy for the patient. This type of treatment seems to be the most effective in the treatment of patients and leads to the quickest and most complete relief of symptoms.
There are many ways that marital dysfunction affects the family. Many issues affect children of the marriage. Oftentimes, even in marriages that are cordial, but dysfunctional, the children are able to read the distance between their parents and react to that distance. Divorce, remarriage, and adult children returning to the home are all potential significant stressors in the marriage. Even happy circumstances such as a marriage, the purchase of a home, birth of a child, or retirement are stimuli that bring out marital difficulties.
Many relationship problems are fixable. It requires partners who want to repair the damaged parts of their relationship and have the same or similar goals. Marital therapy begins with individual therapy of the partners. Exploring one’s own issues is the key to repairing the problems in the marriage. Couples therapy with both spouses being treated at the same session together can also be helpful in the marriage’s repair.
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder is very common in both adults and children. Left untreated, it can result in life-long dysfunction: poor school performance, social problems, inability to succeed at work, and multiple other consequences. Oftentimes, ADHD is relatively straightforward to diagnose and to treat.
There are two basic variations of ADHD. The hyperactive, impulsive version is the one with which most people are familiar. The child or adult appears to be "bouncing off of the walls", cannot sit still, cannot keep himself or herself quiet easily. In the inattentive type of ADHD, the patient cannot focus, is forgetful, cannot concentrate, and is generally doing poorly at work, school, and at home.
In general, ADHD is treated with medications. The most common types of medication are stimulants. Stimulants can have many side effects, so prescription and monitoring by a physician experienced in their use is important. The medications may cause weight loss or insomnia, and so they must be prescribed appropriately. Therapy, too, may be helpful in assisting the patient learn coping skills to help with the difficulties that he or she has been experiencing.
Life, business, and executive coaching are practices whose end goals are to assist others to achieve personal goals. Life coaches use multiple methods to help people this process. Dr. Belkin does not practice life, business, or executive coaching per se. Life, business, and executive coaching are generally defined as helping one achieve one’s personal goals by focusing on the future rather than the past and specifically exclude psychotherapy. There are people for whom this is appropriate.
When done by a psychiatrist, life coaching can be a true part of psychotherapy. Goal setting, goal achievement, and understanding are all part of any type of psychotherapy, but understanding the past and dealing with one’s underlying issues is the best way to achieve one’s future goals. If one is experiencing psychic discomfort, depression, anxiety, or other symptoms because of their perceived work, home, or personal achievements, psychotherapy can be the best way to reach one’s future goals and eliminate dysfunctional moods and feelings. More than offering positive feedback or mentoring suggestions for one’s life or business, psychotherapy offers the patient the ability to understand the cause of one’s emotional discomfort, resolve it, and then make better decisions about one’s life. Whether one is a newly-hired intern or the CEO of a major corporation, life and work issues occur and interfere with the happiness everyone seeks. Patients with these issues can be helped.
Birmingham Counseling Center, P.C.
Howard R. Belkin, M.D., D.D.S., J.D.
Barbara Herzig Belkin, M.D.
1137 Holland Street, Birmingham MI 48009
Psychotherapy and Medication Treatment for Adults, Adolescents, and Children
Individual Counseling, Marital Counseling, Family Counseling
VIRTUAL/ TELEHEALTH APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE