What is psychotherapy?

‘Psychotherapy’ has come to have many meanings, but in its most general sense means ‘psychological therapy’ or ‘talking therapy’. Through talking, a therapist and a patient work together to address the issues which trouble the patient. The issues which can be addressed are wide and varied, and can include problems with thoughts, feelings, problem behaviours, relationships or questions of identity, amongst other things. For some, there are clearly identifiable symptoms (such as symptoms of a depressive disorder), whilst for others, the ‘symptoms’ are not clearly obvious, but there is a sense that something is not right within themselves. Psychotherapy can be helpful for addressing a wide range of presenting problems.


Are there different kinds of psychotherapy?

It may come as a surprise that there are many different kinds of psychotherapy. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is perhaps the most well-known, and has a proven evidence base for many problems and mental disorders. However, there are other forms of therapy which also have proven effectiveness, and can often make ground where progress with CBT has been limited. Amongst these other approaches are cognitive schema therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy, in brief, seeks to help individuals develop a deeper understanding of themselves. Through greater insight and the therapeutic relationship, a person can learn to make conscious choices rather than react, enhance their way of relating with others, and in short, improve their quality of life. As well as having a well-established evidence base, psychodynamic psychotherapy is becoming increasingly supported by exciting advances in mind and brain research.

There are many more kinds of psychotherapy, most of which have derived from, added to, or are loosely related to those mentioned above. The number of psychotherapies can be quite bewildering, but it is reasonable to ask your therapist what kind of therapy they practice, what it means and how it works.


The following questions will be answered in this section soon:

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Will I have to take medication?