Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling, includes several types of treatment for psychological distress or psychiatric disorder. Psychotherapy involves discussions with a trained professional in order to clarify patient thinking and behavior. Just about any type of emotional disturbance can be effectively addressed with psychotherapy, although in many cases other methods of treatment, such as medication, will be necessary as well.
How Psychotherapy Works
No matter what technique is employed, or what type of professional administers treatment, psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is designed to helps people with psychological or psychiatric disturbances:
- Become aware of their own thoughts, emotions and behaviors and learn to modify them
- Learn coping strategies to better deal with difficult events like illness, death, or divorce
- Regain the ability to experience pleasure in everyday life
- Re-establish a sense of personal control
- Find comfortable, healthy ways to deal with everyday stresses
Common Issues Addressed by Psychotherapy
For some patients, particularly those with serious psychiatric disorders, psychotherapy may be a long-term necessity. For most of the population, it is a relatively short-term means to resolving emotional issues that arise in the course of a lifetime, helping individuals to adjust to life changes, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. The list of issues that may be addressed with psychotherapy is almost endless, but common reasons for psychotherapeutic treatment include:
- Relationship difficulties
- Sexual problems
- Parenting issues
- Eating disorders
- Persistent anxiety
- Anger management
- Grief counseling
- Gender identity problems
- Problems with aging or illness
While it is expected that individuals with serious psychiatric disorders will be engaged in psychotherapy on an ongoing basis, psychotherapy is also commonly sought by individuals going through periods of extreme stress to express troubling feelings in totally non-judgmental surroundings and to develop new coping strategies.
Types of Psychotherapy
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, therapists and counselors — all may provide psychotherapy of different types in varying surroundings. Most therapy sessions last from 45 minutes to an hour, although group sessions may be longer.
When childhood traumas are uncovered and explored in psychodynamic therapy in an attempt to understand their role in present-day functioning, psychotherapy may take many years. On the other hand, when psychotherapy is used to achieve a focused goal, such as overcoming anxiety about public speaking or dealing with the death of a loved one, the treatment may be expected to be completed during several months to a year. Types of psychotherapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Group therapy
- Couples therapy
- Play therapy
- Art therapy
Groups therapy may be further broken down into groups for special purposes, such as groups dealing with bereavement, substance abuse, or gender identity.