People who benefit from therapy are generally motivated to get better, have family support, and deal actively with problems rather than avoid them.
In systematic desensitization treatment, the therapist and client first make up an anxiety hierarchy. The hierarchy lists stimuli that the client is likely to find frightening. The client then ranks the stimuli from least frightening to most frightening. Next, the therapist teaches the client how to progressively and completely relax his body. The therapist then asks the client to relax and then imagine encountering the stimuli listed in the anxiety hierarchy, beginning with the least frightening stimulus. If the client feels anxious while imagining a stimulus, he is asked to stop imagining the stimulus and focus on relaxing. After some time, the client becomes able to imagine all the stimuli on the hierarchy without anxiety. Finally, the client practices encountering the real stimuli.
Free association is a technique in psychoanalysis that involves saying anything that comes to mind. Clients are expected to put all thoughts into words, even if those thoughts are incoherent, inappropriate, rude, or seemingly irrelevant. Free associations reveal the client’s unconscious to the psychoanalyst.
According to cognitive therapists, depressed people tend to blame themselves for negative events and underestimate situational causes; tend to pay more attention to negative events than to positive ones; tend to be pessimistic; and tend to make inappropriately global generalizations from negative events.
Client-centered therapists believe people’s problems come from incongruence, or a disparity between their self-concept and reality. Incongruence arises because people are too dependent on others for approval and acceptance. When there is incongruence, people feel anxious. They then try to maintain their self-concept by denying or distorting reality.