Psychotherapy is a voluntary relationship between someone who requires and seeks treatment and someone who is willing to offer treatment and is trained in doing so i.e a psychotherapist. It is also known as talk therapy, counselling and psychosocial therapy. Broadly speaking, psychotherapy is a way to help people with mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. It is a powerful human connection that in itself is therapeutic and healing.
Some of the changes that psychotherapy can bring about are:
- lessen emotional pressure
- improve interpersonal relations
- change thinking patterns
- healthy habits
- increase self awareness
- and much more
The therapeutic relationship established between the client and the therapist, and the psychotherapy itself have a specific purpose, or a goal. It is to solve the psychological issue being faced by the client. Such a relationship is deep, with unconditional acceptance and positive regard for the client by the therapist, and empathy. This allows for a trusting environment in which the client can open up and express freely his or her problems with utmost honesty, which is also a prerequisite for the therapy to work properly.
Problems a Psychotherapist Can Help You With
Psychotherapy can help treat many psychological problems and disorders. The type of therapy that you’ll be going for depends on what issues you’re facing, the illness, and your individual preference and past experience with therapy (if any).
Following are a few of the illnesses that therapy can help you with:
- Mood disorders: Depression or bipolar disorder.
- Anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, social anxiety disorder (SAD), etc.
- Addictions: Alcohol addiction, drug dependence, or compulsive gambling.
- Eating Disorders: Anorexia, bulimia nervosa.
- Personality Disorders: Borderline personality disorder (BPD), and dependent personality disorder
- Dissociative Disorders: Dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder
- Behavioural Disorders
Psychotherapy can prove to be just as effective or sometimes even more effective than medication as it tackles the problem at its core. However, medication may be crucial in some conditions.
Psychotherapy can also help you with the kind of challenges that we may face in some specific situations during our lifetime. It isn’t necessary to tackle your problems alone without being equipped with the right tools. Know that help is available and possible. Psychotherapy can thus help you with:
- Managing unhealthy reactions and behaviour: Such as anger issues, road-rage, passive-aggressive behavior, etc.
- Coping with stress: Such as workplace stress or other causes of stress
- Overcoming and recovering from sexual and physical abuse or witnessing such an experience
- Coping with life challenges: Like a death in the family or divorce, etc.
- Resolving conflicts and improving any relationship
- Coping with an ongoing major physical problem such as cancer, heart problems, etc
- Getting better sleep
Psychotherapy can help you with becoming more self aware, knowing yourself and your personality well, navigating through life better and becoming a much more resilient person.
Types of Psychotherapy
There are numerous approaches in psychotherapy:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a short and efficacious treatment of many psychological problems. It is scientifically proven to be very effective for a wide range of disorders. It combines cognitive therapy approach with behaviour therapy approach. It equips the client with a dynamic variety of skills that help him/her tackle and identify his/her problems effectively.
Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
EMDR works by activating the brain’s neural capacity for healing from symptoms and emotional distress that results from disturbing experiences in the past. It is proven to be one of the most effective forms of therapy. EMDR therapy enables the accessing of the memory network that is associated with trauma. New associations are then made between the traumatic memories and the more adaptive information or memories stored in the brain. The brain’s information processing system then gradually moves towards better mental health.
According to the humanistic-existential approach, psychological distress arises from loneliness, alienation, meaninglessness and nonfulfillment in life. Therapy creates a permissive, non-judgemental atmosphere with complete acceptance and positive regard for the client which allows for free emotional expression that the society curbs. This leads to emotional integration of the client. The client himself/herself is responsible for the success of the therapy and the therapist is a mere enabler and a guide.
Psychodynamic therapy views intrapsychic conflicts i.e the conflicts between the parts of the psyche that are id, ego, and superego as the source of the psychological problems of a person. According to the psychodynamic theory, unresolved childhood fears and unfulfilled desires of childhood lead to such conflicts. For psychodynamic therapy, the client is mainly asked to talk about their problems while lying on a couch and being completely relaxed. This method is called free association. Another thing that the client is majorly required to do is reporting their dream. The duration of this therapy is usually several years. The outcome is emotional and intellectual insight and complete acceptance of one’s conflicts and the ability to change one’s emotional reaction to such conflicts. The distress is thus reduced.
According to this approach, the distress of the client arises from faulty behaviour or thought patterns which can be unlearnt. The focus, unlike with the psychodynamic approach, is completely on the present. Such patterns are corrected by means of negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement, aversive conditioning, token economy, systematic desensitization, modelling and vicarious learning.
Cognitive therapy approach locates the cause of psychological distress in the irrational thoughts and beliefs of the client. These therapies involve the antecedent-belief-consequence (ABC) analysis. Antecedent events cause distress, irrational beliefs distort reality and the consequence is negative emotions and unhealthy behaviours. Such irrational beliefs are refuted through non-directive questioning.
What to Expect in a Psychotherapy Session
In the first session of your therapy, you will be asked to fill a few forms regarding your situation and condition and what you need help with. The therapist will try to gather as much information about you as possible. This is necessary for picking a proper action plan and therapeutic approach well suited to your needs.
What your responsibility is to check whether the therapist’s approach works for you or not. The first session gives you a chance for the same. You need to make sure you know what type of therapy will be used for your sessions, the goals of your therapy, duration of each session, and how many sessions you will require to heal. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of this and your therapist, then you should see someone else.
Frequently Asked Questions on Psychotherapy
Q. Is therapy confidential?
Yes, therapy is a fully confidential treatment and it will be considered extremely unethical if any therapist discloses your information or anything that you’ve stated in any of the sessions. Thus, your privacy is always considered to be the utmost important thing for us.
Q. What do I do if therapy doesn’t help?
You then need to talk to your therapist. They may take a different action plan and set different goals for you. One of the most important things for therapy to work is your cooperation and honesty. So, communicate all issues to your therapist.