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How Psychotherapy Works

Common myths about psychological counseling keep some people from seeking help when they need it. Some people are embarrassed to admit they need help for emotional issues, while others imagine that it might be uncomfortable to talk with a stranger about problems. Some feel that their religious faith should sustain them through any emotional turmoil, while others believe they know what to do and need only take action to solve their problems.

The truth is that psychotherapy helps people overcome emotional bumps in the road to becoming happier, healthier and stronger. Psychotherapy often provides significant help to people who have tried solving their problems on their own. Working with an experienced psychotherapist helps many clients feel empowered to cope with life’s troubles in healthy ways.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a method of treating mental health problems through talking with licensed mental health professionals, including psychologists, clinical social workers, family therapists, and professional clinical counseling. Through working with professionals, clients explore their thoughts and feelings, and they learn coping techniques to increase their feelings of well-being.

Psychotherapy always involves the development of a trusting relationship between therapist and client while working to change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that brought the client to therapy. Conversations with therapists are confidential except in certain circumstances, such as when a client threatens harm to themselves or others.

Psychotherapy is effective for people of any age and is provided in various configurations, including couples, group therapy, family therapy and individual therapy.

Types of Psychotherapy

Several types of psychotherapy are effective and are often used in combination to treat various conditions affecting mental health, according to Mayo Clinic. There are dozens of recognized psychotherapy techniques employed by those practicing in the mental health field.

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, techniques that have been shown to be effective include acceptance and commitment therapy, which helps clients commit to changes after becoming aware of feelings and thoughts. Interpersonal psychotherapy highlights problems in relationships and works on improving the ability to relate to other people.

Supportive psychotherapy helps clients feel confident in dealing with difficulties, while psychodynamic therapies look at motivations for unconscious behaviors and thoughts. Dialectical behavior therapy works on a development of skills for managing emotions and stress, along with improving interpersonal relationships.

The etymology of the word Psychotherapy derives from the ancient Greek words, “breath”  and “heal”. As the client breaths, they heal. Psychotherapy treats the client’s mental health problems mostly through a series of sessions that involve talking with a psychologist, or other licensed mental health professional to address problematic behaviors and emotions. A positive reaction to psychotherapy will increase the individual’s sense of worth and value, giving them a more positive and enduring outlook on their life and the life of their friends and family.


What to Expect with Psychotherapy

A client attending an initial psychotherapy session should not be worried or anxious. They can expect to talk with a caring, nonjudgmental professional who carefully listens to their concerns and works with them as a partner. It can be helpful to spend some time before the first session thinking about concerns and areas to address in the session.

At the first session, the therapist may ask a new client to complete forms that provide information about various aspects of emotional health. This is one way the therapist gathers information during the first few sessions to help fully understand an individual’s circumstances and plan a course of therapy. At any point in the session, if the client becomes dissatisfied with how the therapist is addressing their issues, they can simply voice their concerns and take another approach, or ask for another therapist.

The client should also plan to ask questions that provide important information for the success or failure of therapy, including treatment goals, how long each session will last and how many sessions will be needed, and the type of therapy that will be used. clients should feel to ask questions during the session. Make sure you are honest with yourself about what your mental health goals are and how attainable they are in the timeframe you’ve set for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with trying a new approach if what you’re currently doing isn’t working for you.

Because clients talk in sessions about their deepest thoughts and feelings, sometimes for the first time, emotions can surface. clients may cry or become upset, but they should not be afraid of these emotions and should feel free to express themselves openly with a therapist. Remember, that this is noone elses’ time but your own. You should feel free to express your emotions in front of your therapist – that’s what they’re there for. For maximum mental improvement, clients are sometimes asked to work on homework between sessions to build on what was accomplished, often by thinking about how their feelings and behaviors are changing.

The number of sessions needed varies depending on individual circumstances. Factors such as the particular mental health issue being treated, how long the symptoms have been present, the level of stress experienced, support from family and friends, and how quickly a client makes progress all affect the length of therapy. Length of time can range from a few weeks to more than a year. Some people may need ongoing therapy to address many issues that have occurred over time. It’s all a personal objective with mental health evaluations.