Psychotherapy/Counselling is most safely defined as a process whereby psychological problems are treated through communication and relationship factors between an individual and a therapist.
While most psychotherapy/counselling hinges on communication between the therapist and the individual, it is much more than talking about your problems. While family or friends can help you feel better or even provide good advice for change, this is not psychotherapy. Psychotherapy/Counselling is a professional relationship between a therapist and a client that is based on therapeutic principles, structure and technique. It differs from other relationships in several ways.
The relationship between a therapist and a client is strictly professional. That is, the relationship exists only and solely for the purpose of helping and healing the patient. The therapist is there for the patient and expects nothing in return but payment for the time.
This is an important point. The therapeutic relationship differs from all other relationships. You can tell therapists things without having to worry about your information being told to others or in any way affecting your job, family or relationships. You can be honest with therapists without having to worry about offending friends or neighbours. When a therapist asks how you are doing, he really wants to know. This is different from casual or social conversations in which the person who asks the questions expects you to say, "OK" so he can tell you how he is doing.
Therapists reveal little about themselves to patients. This ensures that therapists do not do anything to change how individuals present themselves. Extending the relationship beyond the therapeutic setting is not considered psychotherapy and is often harmful to clients.
Therapists are trained to understand what you say - your words, how you say them and which ones you do not use. They pay attention to body language and voice tone to fully understand your speech.
Having learned about and treated people with your condition before, therapists can comprehend your particular problems. They are familiar with the symptoms of various psychiatric/psychological illnesses and the difficulties of daily living. They know what questions to ask and might pose questions that you have never heard before. As noted above, the communication between patient and therapist is not equal. Therapists rarely will reveal their opinions or stances on various issues because it is the client that is the centre in a psychotherapeutic relationship.
Is Psychotherapy/Counselling right for you?
People with a wide range of problems - from depression to marital strife to simple phobias like the fear of flying - can reap the benefits of psychotherapy. The common reasons you might seek therapy are listed below.
- Significant or Chronic Emotional Distress
Most people seek therapy - or any professional treatment, for that matter - to relieve pain or distress. Experiencing emotional pain is part of being human. But sometimes this distress is severe or long-standing and it could impair your daily life. Therapy might be appropriate for you if you feel emotional distress - sadness, anxiety, grief - that is persistent and troubling.
- Relationship Problems
Often, emotional distress comes from difficulty in relationships. Troubled relationships may involve a spouse, parent, child, co-worker or significant other. Therapy can help you understand the root of the problem and provide you with the tools you need to correct it.
- Skills Acquisition
Some emotional distress or relationship problems are associated with the lack of a particular skill. Such problems can include excessive shyness, poor communication, and lack of assertiveness or poor anger control. Many types of psychotherapy enable people to acquire or improve these skills. In these cases, the treatment focuses on teaching people to be able to do what they need to do to feel better.
- Sexual Problems
Sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction are common problems that can be embarrassing to talk about. Over the last several decades, therapists have made substantial progress in helping people obtain the most enjoyment out of their sexual functioning.
- Recent Loss
Powerful attachments to others are uniquely human experiences. Enduring breaks in these attachments - through death or separation - can result in great emotional pain. Psychotherapy can help you cope with the loss.
- Victim of Trauma or Abuse
Natural disasters, traffic accidents or random acts of violence are present in the everyday lives of modern society and constitute potentially traumatic and stress-inducing events with deep physical and psychological consequences. Post traumatic stress-disorder (PTSD) is at the core of modern psychopathology and requires a focused, specialized intervention and treatment. Common symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of intense distress, physical reactions (pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea…), loss of memory, difficulty falling or staying asleep or even difficulty concentrating. Here at LCPC we have professionals that can provide you with a trauma-focused therapy, to manage, reduce and eliminate these symptoms.
- A Clinical Disorder or Condition
Persons with certain disorders or conditions can benefit from regimens that include psychotherapy and other forms of treatment, such as medication. For example, research shows that individuals with conditions such as major depression or bipolar disorder benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and medication. One type of treatment without the other might produce inadequate results.
- Personal Growth
Though you might not have clinical conditions or symptoms, psychotherapy can help you learn more about yourself and others and teach you how to control your life more effectively. It can help you overcome obstacles that have kept you from reaching your goals and becoming the person you want to be.