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Psychotherapy 101: What Is It And Is It Right For Me?

Psychotherapy aims to give those facing difficult life issues useful tools and strategies for coping with anxiety, depression, stress, addiction and more. Interacting therapeutically with a trained professional provides the greatest help for a patient, family or couple. Psychotherapy uncovers attitudes, conditions and moods to better control patients’ feelings, behaviors and cognition so that they may better cope with negative or positive life situations.

The purpose of psychotherapy is to help patients explore their reactive emotions to life situations through work with a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, life coach or any other professional practitioner. These mental health professionals attempt to increase the self-esteem of their patients by increasing the individual’s sense of well-being. Therapists use a wide array of cognitive techniques focused on better communication, stronger relationships, higher dialogue and better behavior, to improve the mental health of the patient or patients.

Psychotherapy, A Brief History

Psychotherapy has a long history, one with an indefinite starting date. The basis of psychotherapy is reassurance, so one may assume that even early civilized humans had the capability of reassuring peers and partners in the midst of life altercations.

Psychotherapy is first recorded as taking place in the 4th century AD, among the Greeks and Romans. The better-known development of the practice, however took place under Sigmund Freud in the early half of the 20th century. He used psychological practices such as free association, ego interpretation and dream analysis to conduct psychotherapy sessions on a number of patients. He found that life problems often stemmed from unresolved childhood issues and attempted to resolve them through the aforementioned techniques.

Following Freud’s death and the rise of psychology as a profession, many therapists, like B.F. Skinner, Otto Rank, and Anna Freud developed the practice into something called, ‘psychodynamics’ which involved careful study of the conscious or unconscious mind.

Following this rise in psychodynamics, the field of study split into two main groups, CBT and ACT.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) Explained

Cognitive Behavior Therapy attempts to fix psychotic behavior such as dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes. Through a number of psychoanalytical strategies, CBT addresses conditions such as mood swings, anxiety and depression, personality and eating disorders, addiction, and psychosis. CBT has it’s roots within cognitive psychology, developed in the late ‘70’s, which ended up merging with cognitive therapy. These two practices involve addressing problems through experimental research and hypothesis testing. Cognitive Behavior Therapy focuses on the present, “here and now,” while the therapist attempts to use a structured path while guiding the patient to symptom alleviation.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Explained

Another subset of psychotherapy is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It’s set in empirically-based psychological intervention, using acceptance and self-awareness to stretch the mind in dealing with life altercations.

ACT helps patients accept and live with their thoughts and feelings, rather than try and control them as with CBT. Through self-clarity, one’s personal values are brought to the forefront of the conversation as the patient takes certain actions to bring more purpose into their sense of being and their life. Practitioners of ACT believe that the human mind is intrinsically unhealthy, often becoming destructive if their personal cognitive process isn’t accepted.


Psychotherapy Techniques

There are several psychotherapy services that have been developed throughout the last century, but let’s get into some specific examples of the type of therapy you could be receiving in your psychotherapy sessions.

The Miracle Question
The miracle question is about goal setting. It’s used when a patient cannot perceive a future for themselves, or are confused about which life path to take. This question attempts to move the patient’s mind toward setting visionary goals, rather than being stuck within the context of their problems. So, the therapist asks a question along the lines of,

“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?”

This helps both patient and therapist see the end goals for psychotherapy. This gets to the bare bones of why the patient is visiting a psychotherapist in the first place, without having to spend session after session uncovering their deepest desires.

Immediate Impact
Intensive short term dynamic psychotherapy has been around since the ‘60’s. At the time, psychoanalysis was considered a very in-depth practice that took a very long time to fix problems patients were having. This practice was built to fix that issue.

Used on patients who shut down or put up walls, immediate impact helps patients figure out the nature of their defense mechanisms, how those affect their lives and how to overcome these defenses so that a positive outlook on life will be achieved and interpersonal relationships will improve.

Transference Interpretation
Transference interpretation deals with the distorted relationships you have in your life. Whether it’s because of a childhood memory or life experience, a relationship that is detrimental, but for whatever reason is accepted by the patient is not good.

The therapist relates current behaviors and relationships to others in the hope that the patient will realize how childhood behaviors are affecting them. It enables the patient to to see the patterns and fallacies in their interactions and throughout their life and attempts to correct them by honest discussion and cognitive evaluation.

To see more great psychotherapy techniques, visit this article on Psychology Today.

Is It Right For You?

So is psychotherapy the right choice for you, your husband or family? Well, the decision is ultimately yours, but if you’re inquiring this far, you may already have your answer.

There is no shame or harm in seeing a psychotherapist, and is a proven way to enhance your cognitive function, emotional control and life purpose. Choices Psychotherapy in Minneapolis, MN is the leader in psychotherapy, and has a fully-trained and licensed staff of therapists. If you’re ready to take the life-improving step of talking to a therapist, we offer hassle-free, private consultation. All you have to do is fill out one of our contact forms for discreet discussion, or give us a call and our friendly staff will set you up with an appointment: (952) 544-6806.