Psychotherapy – also called talk therapy, therapy, or counselling – is a process focused on helping you heal and learn more constructive ways to deal with the problems or issues within your life. It can also be a supportive process when going through a difficult period or under increased stress, such as starting a new career or going through a divorce.

Generally psychotherapy is recommended whenever a person is grappling with a life, relationship or work issue or a specific mental health concern, and these issues are causing the individual a great deal of pain or upset for longer than a few days. There are exceptions to this general rule, but for the most part, there is no harm in going into therapy even if you’re not entirely certain you would benefit from it.

Most psychotherapy tends to focus on problem solving and is goal-oriented. That means at the onset of treatment, you and your therapist decide upon which specific changes you would like to make in your life. These goals will often be broken down into smaller attainable objectives and put into a formal treatment plan. Most psychotherapists today work on and focus on helping you to achieve those goals. This is done simply through talking and discussing techniques that the therapist can suggest that may help you better navigate those difficult areas within your life. Often psychotherapy will help teach people about their disorder, too, and suggest additional coping mechanisms that the person may find more effective.

Most psychotherapy today is short-term and lasts less than a year. Most common mental disorders can often be successfully treated in this time frame, often with a combination of psychotherapy and medications (provided with psychiatric consultation).

Psychotherapy is most successful when the individual enters therapy on their own and has a strong desire to change. If you don’t want to change, change will be slow in coming. Change means altering those aspects of your life that aren’t working for you any longer, or are contributing to your problems or on-going issues. It is also best to keep an open mind while in psychotherapy, and be willing to try out new things that ordinarily you may not do. Psychotherapy is often about challenging one’s existing set of beliefs and often, one’s self. It is most successful when a person is able and willing to try to do this in a safe and supportive environment.

Common Types of Psychotherapy:

  • Behavior Therapy is focused on helping an individual understand how changing their behaviour can lead to changes in how they are feeling. The goal of behavior therapy is usually focused on increasing the person’s engagement in positive or socially reinforcing activities. Behaviour therapy is a structured approach that carefully measures what the person is doing and then seeks to increase chances for positive experience.
  • Cognitive Therapy- this therapy is based on the theory that much of how we feel is determined by what we think. Disorders, such as Panic Disorder, are believed to be the result of faulty thoughts and beliefs. By correcting these inaccurate beliefs, the person’s perception of events and emotional state improve.
  • Interpersonal therapy- focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the depressed person. The idea of interpersonal therapy is that problems can be treated by improving the communication patterns and how people relate to others. Techniques of interpersonal therapy include:
  • Identification of Emotion — Helping the person identify what their emotion is and where it is coming from.
  • Expression of Emotion — This involves helping the person express their emotions in a healthy way.
  • Dealing With Emotional Baggage — Often, people bring unresolved issues from past relationships to their present relationships. By looking at how these past relationships affect their present mood and behavior, they are in a better position to be objective in their present relationships.
  • Family Therapy-This therapeutic modality views a person’s symptoms as taking place in the larger context of the family. Just as a particular department in a business organization may suffer because of the problems in another department, a person with depression may be responding to larger family issues. For example, a depressed adolescent’s symptoms may be related to her parents’ marital problems.

Family therapy is a style where cognitive; behavior or interpersonal therapy may be employed. However, it is most often used with interpersonal therapy.