Psychologists Guide

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What is Psychotherapy?

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Psychotherapy is a method used for treating emotional and mental disorders, where patients talk about issues and their condition with a psychotherapist. There are group, individual, family, or couples psychotherapy sessions where a psychotherapist works with patients to help them understand, learn, and cope with emotional and mental problems. Group therapy is normally two or more patients that are in therapy together. Patients learn that they are not alone in the way they feel, participate in discussions, and share similar experiences. Individual therapy involves only the therapist and patient. Family therapy includes the patient with a mental illness and his or her entire family because they are part of the patient’s support system. Psychotherapy helps family members understand coping methods for dealing with the illness their loved one is experiencing or going through and ways to help them. Couples or marital therapy is a way for partners and spouses to understand the mental disorder their loved one has, how to cope, and what they can do to help.

Therapists teach patients about the causes of their condition in terms they understand; give them the coping tools necessary to solve problems; teach patients to identify their thought or behavior problems and ways to change them so they do not adversely affect their life; and learn the importance of setting realistic, attainable goals. During therapy, the patient talks to a trained, licensed mental health professional for assistance in identifying the causes of their problem and ways to treat the illness. Some patients only require a couple of psychotherapy sessions while other patients continue to see their psychotherapists for many years. Some people require medication along with psychotherapy treatments to help them deal with their problems. Psychotherapy helps patients to understand how their ideas, emotions, and behaviors can affect their illness and teaches them problem-solving skills and coping techniques so they have a sense of pleasure and control in their life.

Mental health professionals use many different approaches to provide patients with the therapy they require based upon what the therapist suspects are underlying factors that cause or contribute to the patient’s condition. When a therapist believes that their patient’s mental illness stems from unconscious conflicts or unresolved issues often caused by childhood experiences, they normally recommend psychodynamic therapy. Their goal is to talk about these experiences so the patient can learn to cope with and understand his or her feelings in order to get better. This type of psychotherapy can last anywhere from a few months too many years. In order for therapy to be effective, patients must put in the effort, time and actively participate.



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