Why consider psychotherapy?

Sometimes people choose psychotherapy or talk therapy rather than taking psychiatric medication as treatment for mental illness. Often, difficulties in their lives can be sorted out this way and medication isn't always needed.

Medication and psychotherapy can be effective and helpful treatments for some conditions.



It is well-known that, taken together, both medication and psychotherapy can be effective and helpful treatments for some conditions.

Common difficulties addressed in psychotherapy

  • emotional problems like depression, anxiety, grief, or anger.
  • relationship conflicts.
  • the effects of prior trauma and addiction.

Some people may also seek therapy simply to learn about ways they can enhance their quality of life.

Who does psychotherapy?

Due to the special nature of the relationship and the range of issues that bring people to psychotherapy, this is a form of helping that requires specialized study and applied training.There are many different health care professionals who receive extensive training in psychotherapy, including psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists. There is much more to psychotherapy than simply a person giving advice or an individual telling their story.

What makes psychotherapy work?

We know from decades of evaluation and research that there are particular ingredients that go into making psychotherapy a valuable tool for helping people.

Although there are many different models or approaches to psychotherapy, all successful psychotherapy typically involves the following:

  •  the development of a positive relationship built on trust, support and safety.

  •  a therapist who can understand the unique aspects of the individual.

  •  the individual and their therapist coming together to identify the goals of therapy and decide how progress toward those goals will be assessed.

  •  patience and tolerance in working to stay motivated and working on the issues at hand. This involves honest, objective feedback for the individual. This helps them with self-understanding and with better appreciation of their life situation.

  • a plan of action provided by the therapist which helps the individual address barriers to change. Tthese methods are usually related to a model or theory of psychotherapy, and there are quite of few of those.

  • the experience of success;  the individual has made positive strides in areas of difficulty that brought them to therapy.

What is NOT part of psychotherapy?

Therapy is not friendship

Therapists typically have positive relationships with people they are helping. These relationships are not friendships.  A therapist has special professional responsibilities that are not part of a friendship. The individual attends therapy to work on their issues with professional help. They are not there to listen to a therapist's life story.

A key focus of training for therapists involves learning and practicing how to address the individual's needs and issues, and to put their own life issues aside.

Therapists also help people with difficult issues. They need to be ready to work with the individual's emotions toward them in a helping and helpful way. Friends and family may not always express all their true feelings to one another. This needs to happen in a therapy relationship as often as possible for real change to take hold. This is another way that a psychotherapist is different than a friend.

Sexual intimacy has no place in a psychotherapy relationship or any other healthcare relationship between an individual and their therapist.

Therapy is more than offering advice or chatting

Good psychotherapy is much more than simply passing along advice. It is a thorough effort to help an individual live their life in positive, new ways that reflect change and growth. Overcoming personal problems often takes time. The therapist and individual work together to work out new problems and wrinkles that crop up on the path.

Therapy is not about having interesting or stimulating conversations about current events in the news

Talk in psychotherapy is a way for the individual to communicate about their life, wishes and views on personal matters. Talk is also a way for the therapist to offer ideas, new ways to look at life situations, and suggestions the individual can use to make positive changes. Chances are that good psychotherapy will help an individual to gain a new understanding about patterns in their emotional and social life based on conversations with their therapist.