What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is the practice of communicating and engaging with a professionally trained, accredited therapist in order to be diagnosed and treated for mental and/or emotional problems.

Psychotherapy or therapy, (as it is generally referred to), is the application of skilled methods and techniques used by the therapist to improve the client's emotional/mental, physical, social and interpersonal functioning.

Initially, the therapist will guide you with questions to obtain as detailed a history of your life as possible. This may take more than one session. Then it becomes an ongoing process that allows you to discuss your thoughts and feelings so that you can gain insight into specific problems. Therapy is most beneficial when, with the help of your therapist, you can connect a current issue to a more deep seated problem from your past history to show a pattern of behavior or emotions that is repeating itself. Lastly, when the therapeutic relationship is more established, a therapist can set goals with the client to make positive changes and to reach obtainable goals.

What to expect from your therapist?

The relationship between a therapist and client is meaningful and very important. It is a relationship based on trust and confidentiality. The therapist is the trusted person with whom you will share your innermost thoughts and feelings. He/she will work with you to develop problem solving skills, new, positive coping skills while also pointing out your maladaptive behaviors. Therapists employ deep listening skills to understand things from your perspective. With guidance, you can attain insight into your current struggles. Also, the therapist acts as a source of information by offering psychoeducation related to your mental health diagnosis.

Above all, your therapist needs to be someone that you feel very comfortable with. Finding a therapist could be challenging, lt may take several interviews of therapists to find a good match for your personality and comfort level. Be very selective during this process, for it is an investment in your future.

Who needs therapy?

Therapy can be long term or short term. Many use short term therapy for current problems they are encountering. An example may be: mild depression; loss/grief; stress; anxiety; relationship conflicts they are encountering at home or at work, etc..

Feedback from a therapist or “reality checking” can help the client deal more effectively with the problem. Or the therapist can aid in getting to the root of the problem thus making it's resolution faster. Many therapists use a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy which effectively treat these diagnoses.

Those who seek the help of a mental health professional do so for varied reasons. Some are dealing with serious mental illnesses such as: major depression; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; PTSD. Another serious reason would be if someone is thinking of harming themselves or others. Others need therapy because they have behavioral problems which make functioning in society difficult such as: agoraphobia; extreme shyness or social anxiety; problems with authority figures; dysfunctional family lives; eating disorders; sexual abuse/trauma. With many of these problems psychotropic medications can be recommended by a Psychiatrist, Physicians Assistant or by a Nurse Practitioner.


Does therapy work?

Therapy can reduce and even eliminate symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. It can improve social skills, relationships, and increase motivation.

Therapy works in different ways.

In short term therapy, many issues can be resolved by using cognitive or talk therapy. A client may want to complete therapy when their goals are met and return at another time to focus on different target goals.

Long term therapy can be enhanced with the use of psychotropic medication so that meaningful therapy can take place. The therapist must be familiar with these medications and should remain in contact with the prescriber. Medication without therapy is often ineffective.

In general, goals set in therapy must be realistic. Therapy takes time, it is not a sudden transformation. lt needs loyalty to the process, dedication, transparency, openness, hard work and connection to a skilled, supportive therapist.