What is Psychotherapy?
Through psychotherapy, psychologists help people of all ages live happier, healthier and more productive lives.
In psychotherapy, psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people develop healthier, more effective habits. There are several approaches to psychotherapy — including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and other kinds of talk therapy — that help individuals work through their problems.
Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. Grounded in dialogue, it provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, neutral and nonjudgmental. You and your psychologist will work together to identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that are keeping you from feeling your best.
When should you consider psychotherapy?
Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still others may have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, facing an empty nest, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member's death, for example.
Signs that you could benefit from therapy include:
- You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.
- Your problems don't seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.
- You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.
- You worry excessively, expect the worst or are constantly on edge.
- Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.
Can't I talk to my friends about my problem?
- Friends may be able and willing to listen and give advice, but qualified and duly licensed psychotherapists are trained professionals with specialized education and experience in understanding psychological problems.
- Whereas friendships are typically mutual relationships in which people take turns being helpful to each other, psychotherapy is devoted entirely to the patient's welfare. Psychotherapy is focused solely on the patient's needs for symptom relief, problem solutions or lifestyle changes.
- In contrast to the mutuality, informality and multiple shared interests that usually characterize friendships, psychotherapy involves a formal commitment to meet regularly at a designated time, to talk just about the patient's concerns, and to continue meeting as long as doing so serves the patient's best interests.