Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.
Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness, or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.
Therapy may be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting, and can help both children and adults. Sessions are typically held once a week for about 30 to 50. Both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in psychotherapy. The trust and relationship between a person and his/her therapist are essential to working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term (months or years), dealing with longstanding and complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are planned jointly by the patient and therapist.
Confidentiality is a basic requirement of psychotherapy. Also, although patients share personal feelings and thoughts, intimate physical contact with a therapist is never appropriate, acceptable, or useful.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING INDIVIDUAL THERAPY
The first session of therapy often focuses on gathering information. A therapist speaks with the person in treatment about their past physical, mental, and emotional health. They also discuss the concerns bringing the person to therapy. It can take a few sessions for a therapist to have a good understanding of the situation. Only then can they address concerns and determine the best course of action.
The person in therapy can also use their first session to decide if the therapist’s style is a good fit for their needs. Finding a therapist you are comfortable with is vital to successful treatment. It is important to talk about the type of therapy to be used, treatment goals, session length, and how many sessions are needed.
Many therapists encourage people in treatment to do most of the talking. At first, it may be hard to talk about past experiences or current concerns. Sessions may stir up intense emotions. It is possible to become upset, angry, or sad during treatment. However, therapists can help people build confidence and become more comfortable as sessions progress.
Therapists might assign “homework” to help the people in their care build on topics discussed in therapy. Individuals in treatment can also ask questions at any point in the process. As time passes, people in therapy may develop a more positive mood and healthier thinking patterns.
People in treatment can expect confidentiality during therapy sessions. But, a therapist may break confidentiality if someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others. Therapists may also do this if required by federal or state law. Many therapists explain the limits of confidentiality and provide written guidelines during the first therapy session.
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