What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy - also known as "talk therapy" - is a process where psychological and emotional issues are worked on through communication between a client and a therapist.
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Many professionals practice psychotherapy – psychologists, family therapists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists.

How does psychotherapy help?

Psychotherapy is based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change their behaviors and overcome problems in a desired way. It is a form of intervention between a psychotherapist and client that hopefully resolves in the client gaining new insight about their problems.

Psychotherapy is about opening up to a therapist about your struggles, in a way that allows your therapist to hear and empathize with what you are going through. Therapists often practice active listening, taking an objective stance and giving their clients useful tools and information to try to make real and meaningful changes in their lives.

A therapist can help you resolve a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, relationship problems and anything else you may be struggling with. Psychotherapists are trained in a variety of techniques called treatment modalities in order to help their clients to get through whatever they are faced with. These changes can be made through open communication, behavioral changes, understanding patterns, changing perspectives, finding solutions and other methods a therapist may use to help improve a client’s quality of life and mental state.

Many different types of professionals practice psychotherapy – psychologists, family therapists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that one-third of adults in the US experience an emotional or substance abuse problem or disorder in their lifetime. Almost 25 percent of adults in the US will experience depression or anxiety. These numbers show that facing problems and struggles in life don’t mean that you are crazy or alone. When problems like anxiety, depression or anything else you may be going through develop, don’t go at it alone – get help.

Should I consider psychotherapy as an option?

By talking to a mental health professional, those with anxiety, suffering from grief, and any other emotional struggles have found that their quality of life has improved. Change can happen anywhere from a small increase to feeling completely cured – the spectrum of help provided through psychotherapy is vast and can be long-term.

Those with mental health problems often feel like there is no way out of their problems. If they cannot be helped by a mental health professional, their first resource outside of medicine is usually self-medicating through drugs or alcohol. Others simply spiral out of control, which can lead to even worse mental disorders down the road or even suicide. By seeking the help of a psychotherapist, your problems and struggles can be minimized by receiving support and the tools you need to better respond to life’s difficulties.

The most common reasons someone might look to see a psychotherapist include:

– Feeling overwhelmed and in despair for long periods of time.

– Emotional problems making living life from day to day a chore and seem impossible.

– The behaviors brought about by these emotions harm their relationships, either through withdrawal or violence/aggression.

– They have no one else to turn to and an outside source for help is the safest option.

Is psychotherapy effective?

Many studies have shown throughout the years that psychotherapy is an effective form of treating and managing mental illnesses and other emotional problems. Those with depression, anxiety, and addictions can see an increase in their quality of life, as well as the potential for a cure in some cases.

The positive effects of psychotherapy can also be found in regards to physical illness. Psychotherapy can increase the survival time of those who have gone through heart surgery and cancer treatments because of the positivity and support it gives them. This means that psychotherapy affects both a person’s physical and mental well-being.

It is true, however, that no one can be cured overnight. The positive aspects of psychotherapy can be both short-term and long-term, but an effort on the part of both parties is required.

How do you get the most out of psychotherapy?

First, be willing and open to therapy. Many suffering from mental health issues, life’s many obstacles or addictions have a crippling fear of failure or aren’t fully committed to the recovery and healing process. It’s imperative that you cooperate with your psychotherapist and follow any at-home instructions they offer you.

Remember that therapy is a two-way street. Your therapist has responsibilities to treat you competently with approved therapy methods and understanding. You also have a responsibility to be open to what your therapist has to say.

How do I know the therapy is working?

First and foremost, your therapist will establish goals of therapy with you in regards to your current problem. These goals can be both long and short-term, but they should be set out within a few sessions. Short-term goals can be easily tracked, but your long-term goals may be more important to keep in mind. By focusing on the progress you’ve made towards your goals, should be a great way to track your success.

Also, remember to take baby steps, no one wants to be uncomfortable or have to go through a long process to recover, however, that might be what it takes. You probably won’t see instant results, so don’t be discouraged if change doesn’t happen right away. Any type of progress is a process.

Therapy works best when you have a good rapport with your psychotherapist. If at some point you feel stuck or like you aren’t moving forward with your therapist, they may not be a good fit for you, and you might have to look for someone that is a better fit.

Remember to take in your therapist’s opinions and observations, while bringing in your own mind and rational ideas. It is typical to become emotional and breakdown once you start therapy. You’re likely tackling a lot of tough subjects, and this can make you more emotional. Sometimes the more emotional or anxious you feel after therapy, the more proof there is that you are moving forward. Going through therapy isn’t always easy, but the results you’ll see for your effort are well worth it.


  • American Psychological Association. (2016). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx
  • Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H., Lior Givon, M.D., PH.D. (2019, January). What is Psychotherapy? Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy
  • Herkov, M. (2018). What Is Psychotherapy? Retrieved on April 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-psychotherapy/