Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling, includes several types of treatment for psychological distress or psychiatric disorder. Psychotherapy involves discussions with a trained professional in order to clarify patient thinking and behavior. Just about any type of emotional disturbance can be effectively addressed with psychotherapy, although in many cases other methods of treatment, such as medication, will be necessary as well.

How Psychotherapy Works

No matter what technique is employed, or what type of professional administers treatment, psychotherapy is designed to help people with psychological or psychiatric disturbances:

  • Become aware of their own thoughts, emotions and behaviors and learn to modify them
  • Learn coping strategies to better deal with difficult events like illness, death, or divorce
  • Regain the ability to experience pleasure in everyday life
  • Re-establish a sense of personal control
  • Find comfortable, healthy ways to deal with everyday stresses

Most therapy sessions last from 45 minutes to an hour, although group sessions may be longer.

Common Issues Addressed by Psychotherapy

For some patients, particularly those with serious psychiatric disorders, psychotherapy may be a long-term necessity. For most of the population, it is a relatively short-term means to resolving emotional issues that arise in the course of a lifetime, helping individuals to adjust to life changes, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. The list of issues that may be addressed with psychotherapy is almost endless, but common reasons for psychotherapeutic treatment include the following:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Sexual problems
  • Parenting issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Anger management
  • Grief counseling
  • Gender identity problems
  • Problems with aging or illness

While it is expected that individuals with serious psychiatric disorders will be engaged in psychotherapy on an ongoing basis, psychotherapy is also commonly sought by individuals going through periods of extreme stress to express troubling feelings in totally non-judgmental surroundings and to develop new coping strategies.

Types of Psychotherapy

Types of psychotherapy include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Art therapy

Groups therapy may be further broken down into groups for special purposes, such as groups dealing with bereavement, substance abuse, or gender identity.

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