What Is Therapy?
What is therapy?
The word "therapy" is most often used to mean psychotherapy - the psychological treatment of emotional and behavioral problems. Psychotherapy looks like talking - but it is really treatment. It's a process that is a lot like learning. Through therapy, people learn about themselves. They discover ways to overcome troubling feelings or behaviors, develop inner strengths or skills, or make changes in themselves or their situations.
A psychotherapist, or therapist, is a person who has been trained to help people work through their emotional problems. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers are the titles of some of the licensed professionals who work as therapists. The letters following a person's name (for example, Psy.D., MD, LMHC or LCSW) refer to the particular education and degree the therapist has received.
Most therapy is a combination of building trust, talking and listening, and receiving support and guidance. Through talking, listening and observing, a therapist can evaluate the problem that needs attention. It is the therapist's job to help a person figure out what's been making him or her so unhappy, and how to change that.
How does psychotherapy help?
Sometimes people who are trying as hard as they can to get through a rough time find that they can’t cope by themselves. They may need help sorting out their feelings, finding solutions to their problems, or just feeling better. That’s when therapy can help.
Therapy is a collaborative effort in which a client(s) and therapist join forces to resolve the persistent problems and underlying patterns of behavior that are interfering with a more satisfying life. Through therapy, people learn to recognize and change their patterns of behavior, thinking, feeling which are related to current life difficulties.
How long does therapy take?
The length of your therapy depends on your therapeutic goals. In general, the more specific your goals are, the less time the therapy takes. For example, if you seek therapy because you have a specific phobia, such as flying, or test taking, therapy tends to last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
On the other hand, long-term therapy is better suited to addressing more subtle emotional issues, such as long standing dissatisfaction with different areas of your life. Long-term therapy goes deeper into the origins of unwanted feelings and behaviors, and can help you to change undesirable patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. Long-term therapy is less structured than short-term, and it can be very effective in alleviating emotional distress and promoting change.
You may wonder whether short-term or longer-term therapy is appropriate for you. My goal, by the end of the first session or two with a client, is to grasp with some clarity the psychological issues, and to devise a strategy for treatment. I discuss my impressions with my clients, and we jointly plan treatment.