by George H., MA, Boston, MA
During psychotherapy, a qualified counselor helps you cope with or change your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors regarding HIV infection. Your family and caregivers may also benefit from psychotherapy.
* Psychotherapy is usually short-term (8 to 20 visits) but may take months or years.
* You may seek short-term therapy more than once as the HIV infection progresses.
Sessions may be individual or as part of a group.
There are several types of psychotherapy:
* Interpersonal therapy focuses on current relationships.
* Cognitive therapy focuses on thoughts and beliefs.
* Behavioral therapy focuses on current behaviors.
* Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unresolved childhood and teenage experiences and their impact on your current thoughts and feelings.
The choice of psychotherapy is based on your individual needs, background, and symptoms.
Why It Is Done
* People who are infected with HIV have a greater risk of developing depression. 1
* Psychotherapy helps you deal with the emotional aspects of the disease.
* Grief counseling helps you deal with end-of-life issues.
How Well It Works
The effectiveness of psychotherapy varies. Some people respond very well while others find minimal relief. Studies suggest that psychotherapy can effectively treat people with HIV who also have problems with depression.
There are no known risks.
What To Think About
Select a therapist who is trained and experienced in treating people who have HIV infection.
Psychotherapy may be expensive depending on the type of therapy and the provider. Check with your health plan to determine whether coverage for psychotherapy is provided.
Please consult your Dept. of Health, support group or Aids Service Organization to obtain a list of psychotherapists that specialize with HIV clients.
We are very lucky in the Jacksonville area to have Heather V. as one of our mental health providers besides being a member of this Board of Directors.