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Psychotherapy: How does it work

Overview of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is composed of counseling by a trained professional, and a client who is experiencing mental health issues. The aim of psychotherapy is to help the client be as functional and as productive in the everyday life as possible. Most psychotherapists focus on communication and changes of patterns of behavior by employing various techniques. There is a wide range of professionals who can perform psychotherapy, and some include psychiatrists, various type of psychologists, marriage, family or school counselors, psychiatric nurses, and so on. Individuals who are trained in psychotherapy have completed graduate studies as well as supervised clinical internships or residences. There is a wide range of mental health issues that are dealt with in psychotherapy. Some include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, various personality disorders, addiction, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. It should be noted that psychotherapy, although sometimes performed by medical doctors, does not necessarily result in a diagnosis, and it recommended for anyone experiencing hardship. When it comes to possible risks of psychotherapy, those are fairly low. However, confronting some underlying issues can be very agonizing. For instance, exploring deeply buried painful feelings is for most individuals fairly unpleasant. Also, those who suffer from any type of phobia will have to face their fears, which are generally avoided if possible. Having to deal with a stressful situation can produce anxiety, but the therapist is there to teach the client numerous coping strategies that ultimately lead to better handling of debilitating beliefs, attitudes, and feelings. It should be noted that psychotherapy is mostly used in treating problems which had a number of years of accumulate.  

Basic Elements of Psychotherapy

Forms of psychotherapy have been practiced for years, but the first widely accepted form is psychoanalysis, developed by Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century. Psychoanalysis is a form of long term therapy still practiced today, and some of the most characteristic techniques include transference, dream interpretation, free association, and so on. Psychodynamic therapy stems from psychoanalysis and it dwells into the unconscious mind, connecting it with the perception of self. Like psychoanalysis, it can take years to complete, while in some cases it is an ongoing process. Behavioral therapy attempts to alter destructive behavioral patterns by teaching individuals new, effective behavior. Techniques employed by behavioral therapists are conditioning, and principles of social learning theory. Behaviorists deal more with the symptoms of disturbances rather than their root causes. Anxiety disorders and various phobias are very successfully treated with behavioral psychotherapy. In addition, many clinicians employ techniques of existential psychotherapy, such as unconditional positive regard, congruence, and empathic understanding. The relationship that the clinician establishes with the client is essential for the psychotherapy to be fruitful. The aim of existential therapy is to allow the client to express their deepest thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, and find full understanding from the therapist. The cognitive approach is focused on dealing with the current situation, and altering the individual’s reactions and beliefs. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach that deals with the individual’s debilitating beliefs and behaviors. Finally, systems therapy is focused on the patient’s family and other groups.  

What to Expect in Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is beneficial for anyone who is enduring difficult life phases, and in many cases teaches conflict resolution, relaxation and anti stress techniques. Psychotherapy helps when having to deal with death of a family member or friend, or divorce. In addition, there are many elements of everyday life which require effective, constructive behavior, and it can be taught in psychotherapy. Regular counseling sessions lead to better sleep hygiene, and reduction of sexual problems. Individuals who have to deal with serious illnesses can benefit from psychotherapy as well as those recovering from various types of abuse. Depending on the types of problems, psychotherapy may be sufficient, but at the same time clients should keep in mind that for persistent mental health problems psychotherapy is most effective when combined with medications. In addition, when a client is referred to a psychotherapist, he or she is asked to answer various questions regarding both psychological and physical health history. The more information a therapist receives the better understanding he will have of the client, and therefore be more able to assist by choosing the most appropriate course of action. Anyone who enters psychotherapy should be aware of the psychological paradigm the therapist will follow as well as the length of therapy and its goals. Those who see the therapist on a regular basis are expected to attend once a week for an hour long session. In case the person does not believe there is a good fit between himself and the therapist, another practitioner should be sought as establishing a strong relationship is crucial for favorable results. Ultimately, when the clients can identify and understand their feelings as well as beliefs they are better equipped with management skills necessary to deal with difficult or challenging situations.

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