What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy — talk therapy — is a general term that describes treating psychological disorders and mental distress. During psychotherapy, a trained psychotherapist helps the patient tackle a specific or general problem such as a particular mental illness or a source of life stress. The therapist uses a wide range of techniques and strategies. Most types of psychotherapy involve developing a therapeutic relationship, creating a dialogue to facilitate overcoming problematic thoughts and behaviors.

Through psychotherapy, psychologists help people of all ages live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

In addition, psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. Your relationship with your psychologist is the heart and soul of therapy. This therapeutic alliance is what makes therapy work. Grounded in dialogue, psychotherapy 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 thoughts and behavior patterns that are keeping you from feeling your best. Your psychologist applies scientifically validated procedures to help you develop healthier, more effective habits of thinking and behaving.

How does psychotherapy work?

Successful treatment is the result of several factors working together:

  1. The quality of your relationship with your psychologist;
  2. Evidence-based treatment that is suitable for your problem;
  3. The psychologist’s clinical expertise;
  4. Your characteristics, values, culture, and preferences.

When people begin psychotherapy, they often feel that their distress is never going to end. Psychotherapy helps people understand that they can do something to develop healthy behaviors, improve emotional expression, increase performance at work or school, and think more positively. While some issues and problems respond best to a particular style of therapy, what remains critical and important is the therapeutic alliance with your psychologist.


How effective is psychotherapy?

Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy helps people make positive changes in their lives.

Reviews of these studies show that about 75 percent of people who enter psychotherapy show some benefit. Research shows the average person is better-off by the end of psychotherapy than 80 percent of those who don’t receive treatment.

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