What is Therapy and How Does it Work? 

A brief elaboration on Psychological therapy    

Therapy or counseling refers to psychological services offered by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, social worker or marriage and family therapist. Psychotherapy has also been called “the talking cure”, and allows people the opportunity to talk about their mental health issues in a confidential setting. Psychotherapy can be individual or involve more than one person such as with marital or family counseling. Therapy can be short-term or long-term, depending on the presenting problem and severity of symptoms. 

Although there are various therapeutic modalities and schools of thought, I incorporate psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral interventions, and explore both underlying dynamics and root causes, as well as utilize more short-term interventions aimed at challenging maladaptive or distorted thoughts. 

It is the relationship with the psychologist that produces change in the patient, and the therapeutic relationship helps the patient explore his or her relational functioning.  Self-reflection helps the patient gain insight and psychological mindedness.  The psychologist provides a corrective emotional experience and empathic responsiveness, makes interpretations, and helps the patient explore unconscious conflicts and unresolved issues affecting their daily life.  The transference between the psychologist and patient, i.e., how the patient transfers feelings onto the therapist, is often analyzed.  Additionally, the psychologist addresses coping and problem resolution to help the patient better manage distress, symptomatology or even daily life challenges or stressors.  

Individuals may seek therapy for a number of reasons, including, unipolar and bipolar depression, self-esteem, anxiety, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, social issues or relational conflict, behavioral problems, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disorders, eating disorders, divorce, substance abuse, loss of a loved one, maladaptive personality patterns, academic problems, psychoses, and medical and legal issues.

Psychotherapy has a high efficacy rate and works to improve mental health, decrease symptoms, enhance performance, and help people lead healthier lives.  Research has shown therapy can offer the same benefits as medication management, although often both psychotherapy and psychotropic medication are the ideal treatment plan.  However, some people are reluctant to take psychotropic medication, especially when prescribed to young children, so psychotherapy has become increasingly recognized as a treatment tool for mental health problems.  The realization of how mental health issues affect functioning and play a significant role in society has consistently led to an increased awareness as to the importance of understanding psychological health and emotional well-being.