There are many facets to psychotherapy, below are links to just a few. You will also find information on what psychotherapy is, how it works and how it can benefit you.
WHAT IS PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Over one hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud, in an attempt to understand the emotional suffering of his patients, introduced psychoanalysis to the public. Psychoanalysis was termed "the talking cure." It was based on the hypothesis that through the process of "free association" or saying whatever thoughts went through a patient's mind, the psychoanalyst would gain a glimpse of what was going on in the patient's unconscious. It was assumed that the cause of emotional pain was repressed feelings that lay dormant in the unconscious, but revealed themselves through neurotic symptoms.
Since that time, the "talking cure" has undergone many refinements and considerable research. The basic tenet, however, that talking with a trained listener will help alleviate emotional distress, has not changed. We have learned that while a person can gain considerable relief from emotional suffering by talking with a good friend, close relative, or even a bartender or hair stylist, the relief is only temporary. Mental health professionals are not only skilled in listening, they are skilled in listening in such a way that their responses help people get to the root of their emotional concerns. We call this interactive process between the person who experiences the emotional or psychological distress or behavioral problem, "psychotherapy."
Today there are many different theoretical and applied approaches to the process of psychotherapy. Some approaches are more effective than others for certain types of issues. Psychotherapists with many years of experience usually have been trained in several different approaches so that they are able to bring their training and experience to bear on the problem presented by the patient.
I use three major approaches in treatment:
The psychoanalytic approach focuses on the way in which the patient organizes his/her internal world. It examines early childhood experiences, issues of self-esteem, intimacy, how one feels about oneself, relationships with others, painful memories and experiences. The relationship with the psychotherapist is very important for it serves as a vehicle for understand how the patient relates to others, past and present, in his world.
approach focuses on understanding the patient's view of the world
in the here-and-now and how s/he experiences his or her world. The emphasis
is on current life situations, transitions, dilemmas, relationships,
and how a particular world view affects one's perception of the world.
This approach is concerned with responsibility, action, awareness, and
growth. It assumes that each person has a unique potential for growth
and the task of psychotherapy is to facilitate the fulfillment of that
The cognitive-behavioral approach examines the patient's beliefs and behaviors. Individuals hold beliefs about themselves and relationships that affect behavior. Negative beliefs lead to maladaptive behaviors. By examining and challenging these beliefs with new information, subsequent new behaviors can change. This approach also examines behaviors directly so that new, more adaptive behaviors can be developed. This approach is especially beneficial for changing habits, learned behavioral patterns, phobias, and many forms of depression.
These approaches may be used interactively with the same patient depending on the issue that is under examination. Psychotherapy is a collaborative enterprise, with both the patient and the psychotherapist actively involved in the treatment. My treatment approach is aimed at helping people who are struggling to adapt to a variety of life situations with greater or lesser success. I believe that by focusing on people's strengths rather than their weaknesses, we can capitalize on the inherent tendency for all people to maximize their potential. I see psychotherapy as a collaboration between two adults, one who defines the problem areas to be worked on and the other, who as a consultant with specialized knowledge, offers assistance in making the desired changes.
This model emphasizes the growth potential inherent in all human beings. It views all aspects of the human condition as interrelated and uses methods and theories from a variety of orientations to support the healthy aspects of the human personality found in even the most troubled individual.
How Does Psychotherapy Work?
Psychotherapy is not like visiting a medical doctor in that it requires your very active involvement and efforts to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You will have to work both in the psychotherapy hours and in between sessions. There are no instant painless, or passive cures, no "magic pills." Instead there will be homework assignments, exercises, writing and diaries, and perhaps other projects. Probably you will have to work on relationships and make long-term efforts. Change will sometime be easy and swift, but more often it will be slow and frustrating and need to be repeated.
As with any powerful treatment, there are both benefits and risks associated with psychotherapy. Risks might include experiencing uncomfortable levels of feelings like sadness, guilt, anxiety and anger or frustration, loneliness, and helplessness; recalling unpleasant aspects of your history; making poor decisions; delaying actions; and difficulties with other people. Some changes may lead to worsening or even losses (for example, psychotherapy may lead to a divorce).
However, psychotherapy repeatedly has been scientifically demonstrated to be of benefit for most people in most situations. Benefits might include the lifting of a depression or no longer feeling afraid or angry or anxious. You may experience a significant lessening of the distress of depression or anxiety. You may be better able to cope with social or family relationships, and so receive more satisfaction from them. You may better understand your personal goals and values and thus grow and mature as a person .