Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties.
Psychological assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and care.
Psychotherapy helps people with a mental disorder to:
Understand the behaviors, emotions, and ideas that contribute to their illness and learn how to modify them
Understand and identify the life problems or events -- like a major illness, a death in the family, a loss of a job, or a divorce -- that contribute to their illness and help them understand which aspects of those problems they may be able to solve or improve
Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life
Learn healthy coping techniques and problem-solving skills
Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.
Would this be the right service for you?
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is a general term that is used to describe the process of treating psychological disorders and mental distress using verbal and psychological techniques. During this process, a trained psychotherapist helps the client tackle specific or general problems such as a particular mental illness or a source of life stress. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.
Psychotherapy is similar to counselling, and the two can overlap. However, the former tends to look more deeply, addressing the underlying causes of a person’s problems as well as how to solve them.
To see positive results, a person will usually need to understand the need for change and be willing to follow the treatment plan as the specialist advises. They will also need to find a suitable therapist they can trust.
Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness, or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety.
There are several different types of psychotherapy, and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.
Types of Psychotherapy
Depending on the approach used by the therapist, a wide range of techniques and strategies can be used. Almost all types of psychotherapy involve developing a therapeutic relationship, communicating and creating a dialogue, and working to overcome problematic thoughts or behaviours.
The choice of therapy type depends on the patient’s particular illness and circumstances and his or her preference. Therapists may combine elements from different approaches to best meet the needs of the person receiving treatment.
Some of the more popular approaches are:
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
Dialectical behavior therapy
Additional therapies sometimes used in combination with psychotherapy include:
Animal-assisted therapy – working with dogs, horses or other animals to bring comfort, help with communication and help cope with trauma
Creative arts therapy – use of art, dance, drama, music and poetry therapies
Play therapy – to help children identify and talk about their emotions and feelings
Therapy may be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting, and can help both children and adults. Sessions are typically held once a week for about 30 to 50. Both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in psychotherapy. The trust and relationship between a person and his/her therapist is essential to working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term (months or years), dealing with longstanding and complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are planned jointly by the patient and therapist.
Confidentiality is a basic requirement of psychotherapy. Also, although patients share personal feelings and thoughts, intimate physical contact with a therapist is never appropriate, acceptable, or useful.
Psychotherapy and Adjunct Treatment
Psychotherapy is often used in combination with medication to treat mental health conditions. In some circumstances medication may be clearly useful and in others psychotherapy may be the best option. For many people combined medication and psychotherapy treatment is better than either alone. Healthy lifestyle improvements, such as good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep, can be important in supporting recovery and overall wellness.
How to Get the Most Out of Psychotherapy
The efficacy of therapy can vary depending on a wide range of factors. The nature and severity of your problem will play a role, but there are also things you can do to get the most out of your sessions, including:
Being honest with your therapist: Don't try to hide problems or feelings. Your goal is to show up as your true self without trying to hide aspects of your personality that you might be afraid to reveal.
Feeling your feelings: Don't try to hide negative or distressing emotions such as grief, anger, fear, or jealousy. Talking about these feelings within the context of therapy can help you understand them better.
Being open to the process: Work on forming an open and genuine therapeutic alliance with your therapist. Some research suggests that therapy is most effective when you feel a connection with the mental health professional treating you.1
Attending your sessions: Life gets busy but try to stick to your treatment plan and scheduled appointments as best you can.
Doing the work: If your therapist assigns homework to work on outside of your sessions, make an effort to finish it before the next session.
Does Psychotherapy Work?
Research shows that most people who receive psychotherapy experience symptom relief and are better able to function in their lives. About 75 percent of people who enter psychotherapy show some benefit from it. Psychotherapy has been shown to improve emotions and behaviors and to be linked with positive changes in the brain and body. The benefits also include fewer sick days.