Psychotherapy is an interpersonal, relational intervention used by trained psychotherapists to aid clients in problems of living. Psychotherapy traditionally focuses on serious problems associated with intrapsychic, internal, and personal issues and conflicts. It emphasizes on the past more than the present, on insight more than change, on the detachment of the therapist, and the therapist’s role as an expert. It usually involves a long-term relationship (20 to 40 sessions over a period of six months to two years) that focuses on reconstructive change.
Psychotherapy occurs within a structured encounter between a trained therapist and patient(s).
Most forms of psychotherapy use spoken conversation. Some also use various other forms of communication such as the written word, artwork, drama, narrative story or music. Psychotherapy may include; psychoanalitical therapies, behavioral therapies, group therapy, family therapy, marital therapy, and cognitive therapies among others.
Therapy is generally employed in response to a variety of specific or non-specific manifestations of clinically diagnosable and/or existential crises. Treatment of everyday problems is more often referred to as counseling. However, the term counseling is sometimes used interchangeably with “psychotherapy”.
While some psychotherapeutic interventions are designed to treat the patient employing the medical model, many psychotherapeutic approaches do not adhere to the symptom-based model of “illness/cure”. Some practitioners, such as humanistic therapists, see themselves more in a facilitative/helper role. As sensitive and deeply personal topics are often discussed during psychotherapy, therapists are expected, and usually legally bound, to respect client or patient confidentiality. The critical importance of confidentiality is enshrined in the regulatory psychotherapeutic organizations’ codes of ethical practice.
Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand.
In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session.