Psychotherapy is a form of treatment for emotional problems in which a mental health professional establishes a  relationship with an individual for the purpose of modifying unrewarding patterns of behavior and promoting positive personality growth and development.  It is undertaken to gain self-knowledge and change.  Most people come to psychotherapy because defenses which have served them in the past are no longer working or useful. There are several  approaches to psychotherapy -- including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal,  psychodynamic and other kinds of talk therapy that help individuals recover from emotional  difficulties.

Skilled therapists such as psychologists can work with individuals to pinpoint the life circumstances that contribute to their problems, and help them understand which aspects of those problems they may be able to solve or improve. Short-term therapy can help identify options for the future and set realistic goals that enable individuals to enhance their mental and emotional well-being.  Therapists also help individuals identify how they have successfully dealt with similar feelings in the past and identify negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness.  The ability to express a variety of emotions without negative consequences is a reassuring and desensitizing experience. As a result, a psychotherapist can help nurture a more positive outlook on life.

In the case of long-term psychotherapy, the individual can investigate other learned thoughts and behaviors that create and contribute to depression, anxiety and interpersonal conflict.  In the atmosphere of warmth, objectivity and respect on the part of the therapist for the patients subjective life experience, motivations can be explored without fear of criticism, condemnation or censoring.

In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a particular type of long-term therapy, symptoms such as depression and anxiety are presumed to be caused by the repression of disturbing memories.  If these memories are brought to consciousness and the emotion discharged, the symptoms lessen or  disappear due to enlightened intellectual understanding.   If the original conflict is re-experienced with a knowledgeable therapist providing a benign and  accepting response, it is less frightening. As defenses against feelings become evident within the treatment setting, they can be examined from a new vantage point and understood through the patient's past experiences and significant figures.  An attempt is made to relate the current upset with significant events in the patients childhood.  The phenomenon of "transference" is relied upon in this type of therapy.  Transference is the projection of feelings toward people from past relationships onto the therapist.

The better the match between patient and therapist, the better the outcome.  The ability to form a good relationship in a therapeutic situation correlates highly with the ability to form healthy relationships in the other areas of one's life. The relationship with the therapist may be used as an example of how the patient reacts to  significant people in his or her current life.  Through the exploration and understanding of their own personal history, individuals can begin to see choices as well as gradually elect healthier coping mechanisms regarding life circumstances.  The goal is to increase the patient's ability to feel fulfilled, increase productivity in life, and aid in  social as well as intimate relationships.



Common Reasons to Consider Therapy
           Treatment Modalities & Specialties          

Fees, Health Insurance & Time

               Personal Philosophy & Qualifications             

The "Stigma" of Outside Help 

     How Psychotherapy Works    

   How Long Therapy Takes

     Isn't Therapy for Crazy People?      

How a Psychologist is Different from a Psychiatrist             

Different Types of Therapy         
              Group Therapy            

                 Couple Therapy               

   Cogmed Working Memory Training    

What's Different about Cogmed?

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Carolbeth Shansky PhD
151 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 814
Chicago, Illinois 60601-7538
312  616 0006

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