Healthy Living: What is Psychotherapy? 

Psychotherapy is a relationship between a mental health professional and a client that involves talking about problems and concerns in a specific way. Based on scientific research about how to best help people deal with problems like depression, stress, or anger, psychotherapy provides effective long term benefit to over 75% of people who complete a relatively small number of sessions. Most people feel better in as few as 6-12 sessions. How Do I Know if I would be Helped by Psychotherapy? One important question to ask yourself if you are considering starting psychotherapy, is whether problems in your life have gotten better on their own, or through the help of family or friends. If not, for example if you have felt depressed or helpless for several weeks or months, or if you worry so much that you have trouble concentrating on things other than your problems, you would probably benefit from psychotherapy. Myths about Psychotherapy: Many people have inaccurate beliefs about what occurs in psychotherapy, and about its potential benefits. Common myths include: · Myth: Psychotherapy is no different from talking with friends: Professional mental health counselors, like psychologists, have learned what types of relationships and what types of self-understanding lead to long term changes that make us feel better. Support from friends is important, but psychotherapy focuses on specific patterns of thinking and behaving that often need to be changed. · Myth: Being in Psychotherapy Means that I am Crazy: About 1 in 5 people have a diagnosable mental health problem. Most of these people are not “crazy.” In fact, mental health problems are relatively common. · Myth: Psychotherapy is Nothing More than Blowing Off Steam: While being able to talk freely is an important part of psychotherapy, effective treatment is more than just venting. Psychologists and other psychotherapists listen for certain styles of thinking and behaving which actually perpetuate many of our problems. By helping you find alternative ways of thinking and acting, you will begin to improve your mental, and often your physical health. What Happens in Psychotherapy? Most people are quite nervous and more than a little apprehensive before their first meeting with a psychologist or other psychotherapist. What is said when you meet with a psychotherapist is confidential, unless you give permission for your therapist to talk to someone else, like your primary care doctor, about your treatment. Usually, people meet with their therapist once a week, or once every other week, until they begin to make progress. Typical topics during the first few visits include: · Telling the Psychotherapist What Brought You Here at This Time: Most people start psychotherapy when they are having particularly difficult struggles. It will be important for your therapist to understand what makes this time so challenging. · What Do You Hope to Gain from Psychotherapy? Psychotherapy works best when the therapist and client mutually agree on the goals. You will have an opportunity to tell your therapist what you hope psychotherapy can do for you. · Patience and Focus on Lasting Change: One of the primary benefits of psychotherapy is that the changes you make tend to last even after therapy starts. This may make the entire process slower than you wish, but the benefit is that changes in self-understanding, behavior, and attitudes can last a lifetime. For more information:Understanding Psychotherapy and How It Works: Clips on Psychotherapy: