Understanding Psychotherapy and How it Works
Let’s face it. Especially, if you are new to it, understanding psychotherapy is confusing! I’m going to dumb it down and make it as simple as possible to understand.
Who performs psychotherapy?
Let’s start with who performs this mysterious act of psychotherapy? There are a few different groups of professionals within Ontario that do psychotherapy: psychotherapists, psychologists, psychological associates, psychiatrists, medical doctors, social workers. This list varies in other provinces and countries.
What are the different types of psychotherapy?
Something else that increases confusion about psychotherapy is that there are many different types of psychotherapy including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Dialectical behavioural therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Supportive therapy
They all have many similarities and differences. I believe that the best therapists combine and use all of these with all of their clients. It provides a toolbox of tools to use with different client personalities and challenges. Not every client is going to respond to the same type of treatment. It’s best to get to know each client’s unique needs and tailor the therapeutic modalities used accordingly.
Psychotherapy is based on the relationship between the therapist and client and occurs through their dialogue.
Psychotherapy is collaborative, supportive, non-judgmental and objective which allows the client to talk openly. In doing this you get the opportunity to examine and explore feelings, thoughts, unconscious beliefs, and harmful behaviours or ways of coping. You’ll often look at your past and how you got here in the first place. As that awareness is what allows you to understand your current circumstances so that you can make the necessary life changes. Reflecting and learning from your past is key to understanding and changing dysfunctional and even harmful actions and patterns.
Psychotherapists will also provide you with psycho-education. This means teaching you what they know about what you are experiencing and empowering you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Knowledge is power. They will tell you tried and true methods to make healthy shifts in your life.
How long does psychotherapy last?
Psychotherapy is a long term process that can take a year or two. A session is usually 50 mins in length once per week. Sessions usually occur one-on-one or between a therapist and a couple or in groups. The more effort you put into it the more progress and results you will see. The sessions will help you gain better understanding of yourself and problems as well as help you find solutions to them. Therapy is a two-way street and your therapist will help you find solutions but it is up to you to come in regularly for sessions, be honest and open during sessions and to follow-through on all assignments and action-steps in between sessions so that change can occur.
Psychotherapy will not only help you with the problems that brought you to therapy but will also give you the tools to cope better with all future challenges that might arrive.
The best way to understand psychotherapy is to try it. Book a session with one of our supportive and caring counselors.