HOW PSYCHOTHERAPY WORKS
is a form of treatment for emotional problems in which a mental
health professional establishes a relationship with an
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
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,
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
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
of warmth, objectivity and respect on the part of the therapist for the
subjective life experience, motivations can be explored without fear of
criticism, condemnation or censoring.
In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a particular type of long-term
such as depression and anxiety are presumed to be caused by the
repression of disturbing memories. If these memories are
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
therapist providing a benign and accepting response, it is
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
"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
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.
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