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Terms Commonly Used in Mental Health Treatment

Glossary of Mental Health PhrasesMental health treatment centers offer help and hope for people with a wide variety of mental health challenges or conditions. Whether you’re a friend, family member or patient, you may feel a bit confused and intimidated when you hear a lot of unfamiliar terms. Understanding different forms of mental illness and available treatments may help you to feel less overwhelmed. This glossary contains a list of terms that are frequently used at mental health treatment centers.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – This form of therapy helps individuals become aware of negative thoughts, to learn to accept them and to commit to living a value-driven life of meaning.

Bipolar disorder – Formerly known as manic depression, this mental health disorder causes wide swings in energy, mood and activity levels.

Borderline personality disorder – Also called BPD, this mental health disorder is characterized by intense emotions, particularly a strong fear of abandonment, thoughts of hurting oneself, and difficulty in relationships.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Often referred to as CBT, this form of therapy focuses on changing thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Comorbidity – This is the existence of two or more illnesses at the same time, which can be physical or mental.

Delusion – A delusion is a false belief that isn’t based on reality.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Also referred to as DBT, this form of therapy teaches new coping skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.  It was originally developed to treat suicidal individuals with borderline personality disorder and is now also used to treat substance abuse, eating disorders, and other conditions.

Dual diagnosis – This refers to receiving a diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously.

Hallucinations – Seeing, hearing, feeling or tasting things that aren’t there are known as hallucinations.

Inpatient treatment – Usually in a hospital setting, this treatment involves medical supervision and intensive support available around the clock.

Intensive outpatient treatment – This treatment involves attending multiple therapy or group sessions weekly while accommodating work or family responsibilities.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy – This therapy focuses on addressing problems in relationships and improving interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to others.

Mentalization-Based Therapy – Also called MBT, this form of therapy helps patients understand their own thoughts and feelings and improve their understanding of the behaviors of others.

Mood disorders – More than an occasional bad mood, these disorders can affect a person’s everyday emotional state.  They include depression and bipolar disorder.

Outpatient treatment – Individuals with mild to moderate symptoms of mental illness may be able to obtain treatment by visiting the therapist’s office or mental health center anywhere from monthly to several times per week.

Partial hospitalization – This is a form of intensive short-term mental health treatment that usually involves attending structured programs all day during the week and returning home in the evenings.

Personality disorders – Several types of mental illnesses fall into this category, characterized by long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy, causing problems in relationships and everyday life.

Prolonged exposure therapy – This type of treatment encourages individuals who have experienced a trauma to face the memories of the traumatic event in a safe and controlled fashion rather than avoiding them.

Psychodynamic therapy – In this form of therapy, the patient works with a therapist to uncover how current and past experiences affect the patient’s emotions and the choices they’ve made. It can help patients uncover the roots of mental health symptoms and apply this knowledge to life in the present.

Psychosis – This is a mental health condition that affects the mind, leading to a loss of contact with reality.

Residential Treatment – Also called RTC, treatment takes place in a residential facility where support is available around the clock.

Schizophrenia – This is a serious mental illness characterized by psychosis, hallucinations, delusions or confusion.

Self-harm – Also called self-injury, this refers to an individual hurting him or herself on purpose such as by cutting with a sharp object.

Substance use disorder – This disorder occurs when an individual is unable to control their use of alcohol or other substances.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health disorder, please call us at (866) 339-3544 or submit the form below to learn more about our treatment programs in Los Angeles.

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