How Does Psychotherapy Work?

Clinically speaking, psychotherapy is a form of intervention between a trained psychotherapist and a client in order to aid in the problems of living. Don’t be alarmed by the long, medical jargon – psychotherapy is simple talking about your problems with a therapist in order to resolve issues like mental disorders, depression, addiction and other mental health ailments.

Psychotherapists use a variety of techniques in order to help their patients. These can be through communication, behavioral conditioning, and other methods a therapist sees fit to help improve a patients quality of living and mental state. Also, many different people can practice psychotherapy – psychologists, family therapists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists. These are also only a few of the professions who practice psychotherapy, as many other mental health professionals can also be considered psychotherapists.

How does psychotherapy help? Why do people consider psychotherapy an option?

By talking with a mental health processional, those with depression and other emotional disorders have found that their quality of living has improved. This can be a small increase or being completely cured – the spectrum of help provided through psychotherapy is vast and can be very long-term.

Those with mental health problems often feel like there is no way out of their problems. If they cannot be helped by a mental health professional, their first resource outside of medicine is usually self-medicating through drugs or alcohol. Others simply spiral out of control, which can lead to even worse mental disorders or suicide. By seeking a psychotherapist, these problems and burdens can be lessoned via support and the tools to get well.

The most common reasons someone might look to see a psychotherapist include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and in despair for long periods of time.
  • Their emotional difficulties and problems making simply living life from day to day a chore and seem impossible.
  • The behaviors brought about by these emotions damage their relationships, either through withdrawal or violence/aggression.
  • They have no one else to turn to and an outside source of help is the safest option.

Is psychotherapy effective?

Many studies have shown throughout the years that psychotherapy is an effective form of treating and managing mental illnesses and other emotional disorders. Those with depression, anxiety and addiction can see an increase in their quality of life, as well as the potential for a total cure in some cases.

The positive effects of psychotherapy can also be found in physical illness. Psychotherapy can increase the survival time of those who have gone through heart surgery and cancer treatments because of the positivity and support it gives them. This means that psychotherapy effects both a person’s physical and mental well-being.

It is true, however, that no one can be cured overnight. The positive aspects of psychotherapy can be both short-term and long-term, but effort on the part of both parties is required for at least several sessions – possibly even years.

How do you get the most out of psychotherapy?

First, be willing. Many suffering from mental illness or addictions have a sometimes crippling fear of failure or aren’t fully committed to the recovery and healing process. It’s imperative that you both cooperate with your psychotherapist and follow any at-home instructions they offer you.

Remember that therapy is a two-way street. Your therapist has responsibilities to treat you competently with approved therapy methods and understanding. You also have a responsibility to follow instructions, not be combative and be open to what your therapist has to say.

How do I know the therapy is working?

First and foremost, your therapist should establish some goals with you in regards to your current problem. These goals can be both long and short-term, but they should be set out within a few sessions. Short-term goals can be easily tracked, but your long-term goals may be more important. Focusing on the progress you’ve made for both types of goals should be a great way to track your success.

Also, remember to take a baby steps approach to psychotherapy. You won’t see instant results, so don’t be downtrodden when you aren’t magically cured within a month. Any progress is good progress.

You’ll also know your therapy is working when you have a good rapport with your psychotherapist. When you’re both putting in a positive effort, you both know you’re succeeding. When you feel stuck or like you aren’t moving forward with a therapist, they may not be a good fit for you.

Remember to look at your therapist’s opinions and observations objectively. Consider them with as rational a mind as possible. Being immediately combative and dismissive isn’t a great way to get better. The opposite is also true – if your therapist seems overly flippant about your problems, you may not be a good match for each other.

Don’t be afraid if you’re having a lot of emotional moments and breakdowns in and after therapy starts. You’re likely tackling a lot of tough subject matter, and this can make your emotions run high. Sometimes the more emotional you feel after therapy, the more proof you have that you are getting somewhere.

Never forget – psychotherapy treatment isn’t easy, but the results you’ll see are worth working for.

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