What Is A Psychotherapist?

Reviewed on 3/25/2021

A psychotherapist is a mental health professional, who helps people learn to manage their illness and emotional problems in their daily life. A psychotherapist can also be a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, therapist, or counselor.
A psychotherapist is a mental health professional, who helps people learn to manage their illness and emotional problems in their daily life. A psychotherapist can also be a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, therapist, or counselor.

A psychotherapist is a type of mental health professional. They can be a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, therapist, or counselor. Psychotherapists use talk therapy to help people deal with mental illness and emotional problems. 

What Is Psychotherapy Used For?

Psychotherapy Is used to help people cope with a number of difficulties they encounter in everyday life, such as:

  • Trauma
  • Medical illness
  • Loss, such as the death of a loved one
  • Specific mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety

Talking with a psychotherapist can help people deal with the symptoms associated with these situations and conditions.

Signs a person may want to consider psychotherapy include: 

  • Feeling overwhelming 
  • Persistent helplessness and sadness
  • Problems don’t go away or get better even though you’ve tried on your own and/or received help from family and friends
  • It feels difficult to concentrate on work or to perform everyday tasks
  • Worrying excessively or expecting the worst
  • Always feeling on edge  
  • Harming yourself or others by drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, or being aggressive

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How Does Psychotherapy Work?

Psychotherapy uses scientifically validated procedures to help people work through their problems. It is a collaborative approach that involves a patient talking with a psychotherapist who is objective, neutral, and nonjudgmental. Patients work with a psychotherapist to help identify and change thoughts and behaviors that inhibit a person from moving forward and growing. Therapy is confidential.

Research has shown that about 75% of people who undergo psychotherapy show some benefit from it. Some studies have shown that brain changes resulting from psychotherapy are similar to those that result from medication.

Psychotherapy may be done on an individual, family, couple, or group basis. Children, adolescents, and adults can attend sessions, which are usually once a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. Patients may attend sessions short-term for immediate issues, or long-term for complicated and enduring issues. 

In some cases, psychotherapy is used in combination with medication to treat certain mental health issues. Lifestyle changes such as healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep may also be recommended. 

What Are Types of Psychotherapy?

There are several types of psychotherapy. The choice of which method to use depends on the patient’s specific problems and/or mental illness, as well as their personal preference. Therapy may combine aspects of different approaches. 

Types of psychotherapy include the following, as detailed in the table below.

Types of Psychotherapy Chart
Therapy Type Approach
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Helps people recognize and change damaging or ineffective thought and behavior patterns, and replace them with more realistic thoughts and functional behaviors
  • Can be helpful in treating depression, anxiety, trauma related disorders, eating disorders, and other conditions
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
  • Used short-term 
  • Helps patients understand underlying interpersonal issues that are troublesome, such as grief and conflicts and problems in relating to others
  • Helps people learn healthy ways to express emotions and improve communication 
  • Often used to treat depression
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • A specific type of CBT that helps people to control emotions by teaching skills so people learn to take responsibility and change unhealthy or disruptive behavior
  • Often used to treat people with chronic suicidal thoughts and people with borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Based on the idea that behavior and mental health are influenced by childhood experiences and unconscious thoughts or feelings
  • Therapy is aimed at improving self-awareness and changing patterns
  • Psychoanalysis is an intensive form of psychodynamic therapy
Supportive therapy
  • Uses guidance and encouragement so patients can acquire their own resources
  • Works to build self-esteem, reduce anxiety, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social and community functioning

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Reviewed on 3/25/2021
References
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy

https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding