Psychotherapy – what is it and do I really need it?

Psychotherapy is often perceived as a treatment procedure that should be undertaken only by someone who has serious mental health issues. Even though the psychotherapy as a method of treatment has been around for 140 years, people still tend to be very sceptical about whether it works and whether it is suitable for everyone.

What in that case is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a treatment process which uses psychological methods to help people with mental illnesses or emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy is aimed at improving a person’s well-being and mental health, alleviating or controlling troublesome symptoms, and improving relationships or social skills. The desired outcome of psychotherapy is better functioning in everyday life and increased well-being.

There are many different techniques of psychotherapy, which are based on different psychological concepts. In general psychotherapy involves one-to-one sessions, group sessions or sessions with family members.The choice of the therapy technique depends on the patient’s illness or difficulty, the circumstances and personal preference.

As psychotherapy is a long-term process where the results are difficult to measure, some people may doubt the effectiveness of therapy. However, multiple research has shown that most people who receive psychotherapy acknowledge that they are able to function better in their lives, while symptoms are eliminated or controlled. Psychotherapy improves emotions and behaviours, and positive changes resulting from therapy have also been linked to changes in the brain.

When considering psychotherapy

When considering psychotherapy, many people might question whether they really need to undertake therapy. That is a question that everyone must answer for themselves. However, therapy can help not only in cases of mental illness. Psychotherapy is helpful during crises, to overcome emotional troubles, to deal with trauma, but also to gain a better understanding of oneself.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist and the client focus on the client’s dysfunctional thoughts and actions. By talking about them and performing various therapeutic tasks, they jointly develop the client’s new ways of thinking about themselves, others and the world, as well as more developmental behaviors.

The American Psychological Association suggests considering psychotherapy when events or personal emotions and/or characteristics cause distress or interferewith some part of life. In particular, the following statements might be a signal that therapy could be helpful:

  • Thinking about or coping with an issue takes up at least an hour each day.
  • An issue causes you to feel embarrassed or makes you avoid others.
  • An issue has resulted in a decrease in your quality of life.
  • An issue has had negative effects on your work, school or relationships.
  • Changes have been made or new habits had to be developed in order to cope with an issue.

If approached with an open mind and an openness to change, psychotherapy can be very beneficial for most people. Some of the benefits of therapy are that you will learn a lot more about yourself. Therapy can help you to achieve your goals, or can help you to prioritize your goals and find methods of achieving them. Very often, people are afraid of change, and therapy can help overcome fears and support you in improving your life.