What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a general term that includes different approaches to help sort out aspects of their emotions and behaviours that are causing problems. Psychotherapy has evolved greatly over time and many older ideas and theories are used less and less. Concepts used in counselling and hypnotherapy can be used to create positive changes in how clients feel.
Psychotherapy is a supportive process when going through difficult situations or stressed. Your psychotherapist is there to help you through the pain and help you move forward.
Generally psychotherapy is for anyone going through difficulties, that they cannot deal with or come to terms with. It is best to see a psychotherapist sooner rather than later – as these types of problems tend to get worse over time. There is absolutely no harm to going see a therapist even if you’re not sure that you need to. The therapist will be able to tell you if you need help and if so how many sessions you may need. ACCPH therapists will be honest with you, if they believe you don’t need psychotherapy they are bound to tell you so. (Our Code of Conduct and Ethics ensures this).
Many psychotherapists tend to focus on solving your problems by being goal-oriented. You and your therapist will decide on the changes you need to make to improve your life. Goals are often broken down into manageable bits which then becomes your action plan.
Much of the work is done by talking and discussing the problems through and using techniques the psychotherapist suggests that may be of use to you to make changes. Psychotherapy usually teaches people about their problem, for many this can help the process greatly.
Most psychotherapy is short-term and usually lasts much less than a year. Most of the common psychological disorders can be treated in this time.
Psychotherapy is most successful when the individual has a strong desire to make the changes. Change means you have to alter aspects of your life that are not working for you. Psychotherapy is about challenging your existing beliefs and becoming a “new person”.
Psychotherapy does not have a fixed format as each session is usually tailored to the client. This flexibility allows for a variety of therapy formats, such as:
- Face-to-face, (one-to-one) sessions
- Face-to-face group sessions
- Telephone or Skype
- Online counselling by email
When deciding which psychotherapist to choose it can be very useful to understand the different approaches or therapies they may use in their work with you. It is possible that you may feel one approach seems better than another. In which case ask the counsellor to explain it in detail.
Many psychotherapists work within the following categories of therapy:
- Cognitive and behavioural therapies; these examine your cognitions and behaviours
- Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies; the focus here is on the unconscious relationships that evolved from childhood and how they are affecting you now
- Humanistic therapies; these concentrate on your self-development in the ‘here and now’. They do not tend to dwell on the past.
- Arts therapies; the use of creative arts within the therapeutic process is used to help the person express their emotions and move forward
- Couples and Family ; resolving issues experienced by couples or whole families.
Click the title of each category to link to a more detailed page.
The above is a massive generalisation and many counsellors utilise a form of ‘integrative’ psychotherapy. They have learned several of the above therapy approaches and have drawn on certain specific techniques from them.
Other work in an ‘eclectic’ way. They have learned several of the above therapy approaches and blend them as required for the client.
How can Psychotherapy help?
Psychotherapy can help people with many different problems. Please follow this link to the Common Problems page to see the main problems our therapists and coaches aid clients with.
Please be aware that not everything on that list may be worked on by psychotherapists and that not all possible issues are listed.
For many people it is a safe, non-judgemental and confidential environment to speak freely in. It is a space to express and explore your thoughts and emotions with an unbiased person. (We all know that in the “outside world”, what we say to others can have effects we were not expecting and can cause major problems.
Remember that psychotherapists may give you advice or tell you what to do to feel better. A good psychotherapists will help you to uncover your own insights which in turn will help you to understand your problems.
Psychotherapy is not usually a brief therapy, so it is better to look at it as more of a journey. Most journeys take time and so does psychotherapy and also some consistent effort from the client to work effectively. Therefore it is best to opt for regular sessions to get the best results.
Psychotherapists do not only help you understand yourself better but how other people may be thinking and feeling. This ability to understand other people better allows you to make better judgements about what they say and do; thereby not allowing them to affect you the way they may have in the past.
Psychotherapy requires you to discuss and explore painful thoughts, emotions and memories. This is often difficult to begin with and for a short time you may feel worse. However; confronting these things is necessary to move forward and you will soon start to feel better. Some sessions will feel of very little value but others may contain massive gains. Just remember that it is a process designed to help you in the long term, no two sessions will be the same.
In your first session, usually called an Initial Assessment your psychotherapist will ask you questions about you and your problems. Try to answer honestly and fully. This is the information that your counsellor will be using to help you.
Psychotherapy is built on a trusting relationship with your therapist. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable with them it is absolutely OK to find a different one.
Your psychotherapist will establish some clear boundaries about the counsellor/client relationship, confidentiality, behaviour, appointments and payment before you begin your sessions.