An Expert Guide to Mental Illness Awareness Week: Day Three Therapy

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Mental Illness Awareness Week is the first full week in October. Today's topic is therapy which plays a critical role in the treatment of mental illness.
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An Expert Guide to Mental Illness Awareness Week: Day Three Therapy

It is Mental Illness Awareness Week from October 2, 2022 – October 8, 2022. I am posting a series going along with NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness ), One of my favorite sites for all information on mental illness. 

Please remember, as I state in every post about mental health, I am not a Therapist, Doctor, or Psychiatrist. I am a person who lives daily with mental illness, so I feel confident in passing on what works for me and what I have learned myself about mental illness. I ALWAYS suggest that you seek medical attention.

The rundown for this week’s posts is going to follow their scheduled day topics which are 


  • Monday, October 3: Stigma
  • Tuesday, October 4: Medication [National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding]
  • TODAY – Wednesday, October 5: Therapy
  • Thursday, October 6: Disclosing [National Depression Screening Day]
  • Friday, October 7: Caregiving

Each day of this week, I will share information from NAMI and my personal real-life experiences with Mental illness. I have found some excellent information on their site and some videos that touch on these subjects. 

I want to Promote the NAMI HelpLine.

The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals, and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public.

Anyone can reach the NAMI HelpLine Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET.

Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640, or email us at

Let's get started on Wednesday, October 5: Therapy.

Here are some different types of therapy 

Popular Types Of Psychotherapy

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Mentalization-Based Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Therapy Pets


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy replaces negative thoughts or actions with positive thoughts or behaviors. For example, a person with low self-esteem might think, “I am not good enough.” a therapist might direct them to think differently by saying, “I can do a lot of things” There is usually homework with this type of therapy as far as mental exercises and journaling.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is very close to the above Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There is a difference, though. The therapist helps the person to accept negative thoughts or behaviors and then teaches coping skills to help alleviate symptoms.

I am going to use myself as an example. I have negative emotions about taking medication. If I were doing this therapy for that reason, my therapist would help me accept that I will be on medication for the rest of my life. She would also teach me ways to deal with it, like seeing the good in the situation or positive reinforcement. I may give myself a small gift at the end of a week if I correctly take my medication every day.

Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

I really do not understand this therapy. I do not feel I have enough knowledge to explain it, so I will quote NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness ) on the summary they have on THIS website page


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is used to treat PTSD. Several studies have shown it can reduce the emotional distress resulting from traumatic memories. EMDR replaces negative emotional reactions to difficult memories with less-charged or positive reactions or beliefs. Performing a series of back and forth, repetitive eye movements for 20-30 seconds can help individuals change these emotional reactions. Therapists refer to this protocol as "dual stimulation." During the therapy, an individual stimulates the brain with back and forth eye movements (or specific sequences of tapping or musical tones). Simultaneously, the individual stimulates memories by recalling a traumatic event. There is controversy about EMDR—and whether the benefit is from the exposure inherent in the treatment or if movement is an essential aspect of the treatment.

Exposure Therapy

This therapy is about identifying what triggers someone and then exposing them to the trigger in a safe space to teach them how to cope with it better.

An example is someone who has a panic attack when seeing a spider. In a safe environment, The Therapist would show them a spider and then help them react differently to help the panic attack. They might also offer them a spider over time so that the patient becomes used to the spider and does not fear it.

Interpersonal Therapy

This therapy is about how a person reacts in their relationships. The therapist helps identify negative behaviors and teaches positive ones to replace what they don’t want.

An example might be someone who isolates themselves because they are depressed. Their therapist might help them by acting out situations when the patient might socialize.

I personally do this with Joe. (again, I am not a therapist) If you don’t know, my son Joe has autism. He is very much into being alone, and I try to help him socialize while he is at his day program. We have mini conversations like I am another person that attends the program. Here is what it might look like

Joe: “Hi, Justin”
Me: “Hi Joe, how are you today?”
Joe: ” I am fine. What did you have for dinner?”
Me: “I ate Mac n cheese last night.”
Joe: “Oh, that’s my favorite! We had it on Tuesday.”

We usually talk for some time like this so that he can see how to continue the conversation. It helps him feel confident because he can practice questions to ask.

Mentalization-Based Therapy

This one is a bit hard to explain, so I will jump into an example using myself because I have a borderline personality disorder. 

Someone with BPD feels unattached to themself. Like when I have flashbacks about the abuse I endured when I was young, I can seem to look down on myself, not AT myself. It is becoming unattached to my body. Sometimes I feel empty, having no emotions at all, like shutting down. It is so hard to describe. If you have seen the movie the Never Ending Story, that is what I feel when I have symptoms like nothing is taking away every thought and feeling I have. 

This type of therapy teaches you to connect to yourself and those around you. Not everyone is the same; fortunately for me, I have relationships where I am connected to the other person’s feelings. The therapy would help someone to recognize someone else and how those people feel, like empathy. 

The article I am using for research is on the NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness ) website and is right here if you want to read the technical explanation. 


Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy where the therapist asks you open-ended questions to find unresolved issues from past experiences.

Using myself as an example again, my therapist would ask me all kinds of questions when I really didn’t want to talk to her. She was doing this to see if something from my past was unresolved so we could work on it. An example of this is I have issues with a family member. She might ask, “What do you think makes a family close?” to get me to talk about my family.

My therapist would then take the negative things I had to say to help me resolve the issues or just learn to cope with them. Honestly, I didn’t like this therapy when my therapist used it. She always knew something was bothering me, and I didn’t want to talk about it.

Therapy Pets

This is my favorite therapy!!!!! There is some science stuff, but this is pretty straightforward. Loving therapy pets reduces stress and anxiety! It is proven!

I have an unofficial therapy dog! His name is Jonah. He is a shih tzu / bichon mix, sometimes known as a teddy bear dog. I am biased, but I think he is the sweetest pup ever! When I cry, he always sits up by my head and licks my face until I stop crying. When I lay rolled up, pretty much in the fetal position, he gets super close to my face and will not move as long as I lay there. If I am super up and hyper, so is he! He wants to run and play when I am experiencing a “high” mood.

You know I have to share his picture! Here is my Baby Jonah

Mental Illness Awareness Week Wedneday main Danielle and Jonah

I am currently working on a six-part series about what to talk about in therapy. I have so much good information! Those posts are coming out on Thursdays. My next one will post next Thursday, October 3, 2022, so please read the posts below and come back for the next four! 

How To Get The Best Results: What To Talk About In Therapy – Part One

What To Talk About In Therapy: How To Get The Best Results – Part Two

For this week, Mental Illness Awareness Week, from October 2, 2022 – October 8, 2022, here is what we have posted so far – 

Previous article in this series 

Interesting Guide to Mental Illness Awareness Week: Day one stigma

Fascinating Guide to Mental Illness Awareness Week: Day Two

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