What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy from Soup to Nuts
What is psychotherapy? Washington, DC, (Chevy Chase, MD), psychologist, psychoanalyst, Dr.
Lynn Friedman explores the province of psychotherapy.
What is psychotherapy? What happens in psychotherapy? How does it
work? For whom is it helpful? And, what sorts of difficulties or
challenges does it help people overcome? How might one benefit from
psychotherapy? And, what sorts of steps might one take to have a
helpful, positive experience in psychotherapy?
What is a psychotherapist? How does one sort through the array of
psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, counselors, social
workers, pastoral counselors, psychiatric nurses and others who offer
this sort of help?
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy entails a
relationship between a trained
psychotherapist and a person who is interested in deepening their
understanding of themselves, with the goal of resolving conflicts,
overcoming obstacles or addressing unhappiness in their lives.
many kinds of psychotherapy and each approach conceptualizes or views
individual in different ways.
However, most methods share in common the idea that:
People come to psychotherapy because they are sad, worried or troubled about something in themselves and/or in their lives.
Many difficulties can be understood, resolved through talking with a trained, outsider and gaining perspective.
To be effective, psychotherapy must take place in a safe, respectful & confidential setting.
Beyond this, there are many kinds of psychotherapy (and, counseling), each with their own
specialized approach. The most common include: psychoanalytic psychotherapy (or
psychodynamic psychotherapy), psychoanalysis
, cognitive behavioral therapy (aka CBT) and
humanistic psychotherapy. Also, psychotherapists work with people,
individually, in marriage counseling, in couples counseling
Psychodynamic (and, psychoanalytic) psychotherapy (and, counseling)
Psychodynamic psychotherapy has several major assumptions. These include:
The notion of a dynamic unconscious.
The idea here is that we
are driven by forces outside of our awareness. Take for example the
outstanding college student who dutifully allows his father to choose
his major. As he approaches graduation, he finds himself too anxious to
study. He begins to fail his courses. He may be unaware of how
frightened his is of being on his own and functioning as an adult.
Similarly, he may not recognize how angry he is at his parents for
undermining his quest for adulthood.Thus, his symptoms serve dual
functions: they allow him to avoid adulthood and they let him
express, albeit indirectly, anger and resentment toward his parents.
In the situation, the psychologist's task is to, "make the
unconscious conscious". To do this, psychodynamic therapists eschew
lists making. Instead, they encourage the individual to say, "whatever
comes to mind" and to report day dreams, "flash thoughts" and
fantasies. Also, individuals are asked to report dreams. Called by
Freud, "the royal road to the unconscious" dreams are understood to
provide access to those forces outside the individual's awareness in
their waking lives. Read more about what happens in psychotherapy:
The psychotherapists task is to listen and to try to
decipher the hidden struggle - and, point it out to the
individual. As he comes to understand his feelings, the person
can make decisions about his life with greater clarity and comfort.
A focus on human growth and development.
Human beings are always growing and developing throughout their lives. Thus, there is always the possibility of change.
Every individual is unique
Each individual is understood in the context of their unique history and current situation.
The past influences the present
Although today's psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) psychotherapists place
a heavy emphasis on the relationship between the individual and their
psychotherapist. The role of the importance of early childhood
experience remains central in understanding the individual's strengths
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