Psychotherapy is a healing technique in which a therapist and a patient use language to describe emotions, fantasies, and behaviors. The goal of psychotherapy is to enable the patient to achieve greater self-understanding and to strengthen the skills needed to cope with problems. Psychotherapy is also known as the “talking cure” because words are the primary method used to relate one’s innermost feelings and thoughts.
A psychotherapist can be a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, or a counselor. Most people who call themselves psychotherapists have completed advanced training, often involving hundreds of hours under the supervision of a senior therapist who reviews their clinical work.
There are myriad of forms of psychotherapy: psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, and hypnosis are a few examples.
The duration of psychotherapy also varies. Brief therapy may entail a few months of weekly sessions. Long-term therapy that may continue for several years, with sessions occurring as often as three to four times a week.
Successful psychotherapy depends on three key factors.
- Firstly, it is important to establish a trusting relationship between the patient and the therapist. This vital relationship is also known as the “therapeutic alliance”.
- Secondly, the communication between therapist and patient must remain strictly confidential.
- Lastly, the therapeutic alliance must be based on trust, empathy, and a genuine understanding of the patient’s experiences. Without that there can be no progress.
How do you know if you could benefit from therapy?
This is a valuable question to ask oneself. It is also a question you may want to ask trusted family members and friends. Clues to the answer may come from other questions:
Do you feel frustrated by a belief that you have not reached your full potential, either professionally or academically? Related to this, have you grappled with professional or interpersonal difficulties?
Have you experienced depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, PTSD, or adult ADHD?
Have you struggled with substance abuse?
Do you have chronic medical problems or pain syndromes? If you are a woman, have you experienced reproductive issues?
Have issues related to death and dying disturbed your thoughts? Have you endured an unceasing pain of loss, either from a death or divorce?
Therapy can help you achieve the understanding and develop the skills to cope with these conditions.
If you remain uncertain about the benefits of psychotherapy for you, then the best way to find out if you can be helped is by arranging for a consultation with a therapist you can trust and who has been recommended to you.
Dr. Theodore is licensed to practice medicine and psychiatry in California, Hawaii, New York, and Oregon.
Dr. Theodore’s Manhattan office is accessible to residents of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as to residents of New Jersey and Connecticut.