Psychotherapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person’s patterns of thinking and behavior affect the way that person interacts with the world. Depending on the specific type of psychotherapy that is being used, the goal is to help people feel better equipped to manage stresses, understand patterns in their behavior that may interfere with reaching personal goals, have more satisfying relationships, and better regulate their thinking and emotional responses to stressful situations. If someone has a form of mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or an anxiety disorder, psychotherapy also addresses ways in which the illnesses affect their daily life, focuses on how to best understand the illness and manage its symptoms and follow medical recommendations. www.webmd.com
Therapy is actually a generic term applied to the application of any technique used to improve a person’s physical or mental health functioning. We are using the term on this site as synonymous with psychotherapy, which is the application of techniques aimed at improving a person’s mental, social, and interpersonal functioning. The relationship between a therapist and a client is an extremely important one and should not be taken lightly. Your therapist is the person with whom you need to be honest, the one with whom you will share some of your darkest secrets, your fears, and your dreams. He or she will need to listen to you, understand what it’s like to be you, and guide you to the answers. Your therapist will need to be honest with you and to educate you on issues related to mental health and your current struggles.
Knowing this, your therapist above all should be someone with whom you feel comfortable. There are a lot of therapists out there, from Master’s level counselors to doctoral level psychologists, each one with a different personality and a slightly different approach to treatment. Find one you like. If you don’t feel comfortable, discuss it. If that doesn’t help, then consider a different therapist. Remember, you are the client, which means the therapist works for you.
There are many reasons people seek the help of a mental health professional, from simply wanting someone to talk with and use as a sounding board to serious mental illnesses.
There are several reasons therapy might be considered needed:
- If you are seriously thinking about suicide
- If you are seriously thinking about hurting someone else
- If your thoughts, behaviors, or emotions are causing significant problems in your life or have the immediate potential to cause significant problems (such as in kleptomania, pyromania, manic episodes, serious depression, or agoraphobia).
The next question is ‘who could benefit from therapy?’ Simple, pretty much anyone. Therapy isn’t just for people with a serious mental illness, it’s also very helpful for people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, sexual concerns, etc., etc., etc. Recent studies have concluded that approximately one in five people in this country will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, and that around 20 million people are suffering from its consequences as you read this. Studies also show that one in every ten people has a diagnosable mental illness, but that only 20% are seeking help. Simple answer…yes, but it really depends on how you define success. Therapy can help a person solve significant issues in their life, can greatly reduce and even eliminate symptoms of depression and anxiety, can improve relationships, social skills, and even work performance and motivation. But can it cure you of all your woes? It’s not a magic wand, unfortunately, and therapy only works as well as the factors involved (client’s motivation, dedication, and openness, therapists experience and skill, and external factors such as time, resources, and support). are sometimes referred to as integrationists.