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What Is It?

Psychotherapy is an intelligent conversation. It happens between a trained professional whose largest qualifications are compassion and a deep academic as well as experiential understanding of the mind, and a seeker – that could be you. The seeker can either be referred or choose to undergo therapy themselves, but effective work only begins when both parties choose to engage willingly. The objective of therapy is to gain self awareness, and use it as a tool towards mental health, resulting in a better adjustment with routine circumstances in one’s life. The seeker or learner or person receiving therapy is traditionally called a client.

Why It Is Done?

The discomfort that a client feels is subjective. The psychotherapist and the the client articulate this internal world using verbal dialogue, writing, artwork, drama, narrative story-telling or therapeutic touch. The various methods and the many schools of thought in which they base their understanding of the mind, all aim at a process where the the client can bear to face himself, as in, his external and internal world. This is done so that his relationships with himself and his context can improve and he can come closer to self actualisation.

Who Goes For Therapy?

You could. Much like a meditative practice, therapy can be a means to self awareness. You don’t have to be ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘sick in the head’ to be going for therapy. In fact, if your mind is not calm enough, healthy enough to have a conversation, then you will probably have to be treated with drugs while or even before psyhcotherpay will be effective. Psychotherapy assumes the availability of the ‘adult’ or the ‘ego’, as defined in Eric Berne’s Theory of Trabsactional Analysis or in Freudian Theory respectively. It is not an effective methodology until the person concerned can engage in the real world. It cannot be used as a single-point intervention for psychotics or people who have breaks with reality even temporrarily. It is however, increasingly being understood that purely clinical, medical, chemical, drug-based treatements are less effective than when they area accompanied with psychotherapy.

Ready Reckoner

• Although it is used interchangeably with counseling, psychotherapy is a more intense process that requires a professional with a different experience, skill and study. The reason for the confusion is that one very serious and eminient psychotherapist called Carl Rogers, called the psychotherpy he designed counselling. While that remains the origin of the term, counselling is a limited, issue-specific intervention, such as whataccompanies a doctor telling a patient that they have AIDS or cancer. • Different from an altruistic act because psychotherapists are professionals who are paid for their time. In fact, it is considered unprofessional for them to give or receive gifts of any kind outside the contract during the time that they are in the client-therpaist relationship. For more on why this is important, read on transference and countertransference. • Can be done individually or in a group, dependent on the diagnosis. • It can be done on the Internet, via email. • It can take weeks or years. In a crisis, there are forms that are a few sessions. • The process is structured. • The word of a qualified psychotherapist is admissable in court in most countries and the psychotherapist is usually legally bound to repect client-patient confidentiality. • A psychotherpist must have credentials and in most countries must be legally certified. • Psychotherapists who are clinical psychologists with medical degrees can prescribe drugs.

Choosing Therapy and a Therapist

Choosing the kind that will work for you requires some reading up on the various methods that are used by therapists. What techniques they use will be part and parcel of the school of thought about the functioning of the mind that they ascribe to. There are various kind of techniques and a therapist may use several base don what works with for the client. It is less usual for a therapist to be eclectic about the school of thought that they use to analyse what they hear from the client, but not unlikely.

It is wise to read up on the schools of thought before you choose a psychotherapist. There are those who believe in the medical model – they believe that the workings of the mind are a direct result of the chemical, electrical and biological status of the brain. There are those who believe in the non-medical model – they choose between many theories that explain behaviour as it is an expression of the mind. These can be broadly categorised into the psychodynamic, the cognitive-behavioural, the existential and the humanistic.


Please use a well-known psychotherapist and some one for whom you have well researched references. The therapeutic process can make you very vulnerable and suggestible. You want to be in capable hands.

See Also