What Is The Best Definition Of Psychotherapy?

What Is The Best Definition Of Psychotherapy?

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There are countless types of therapies out there for people with mental health struggles.

While we still have a long way to go, as a society, we are becoming increasingly more accepting and open in talking about mental illnesses, and that’s largely due to therapy and counseling. 

So, what about psychotherapy? Psychotherapy sounds like a terrifying word to use when it comes to therapizing an individual.

Does it mean that the individual must experience some form of psychological mental illness, such as psychosis, to receive psychotherapy? If not, then what is the best definition of psychotherapy? 

If you’ve never heard of psychotherapy before and want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about psychotherapy. 

What Is Psychotherapy?

To put it simply, psychotherapy is an umbrella term that is used to treat psychological disorders and any kind of mental distress.

This kind of therapy is also known as talk therapy, as it offers verbal techniques that are designed to change our behaviors, thought processes, emotions, and any negative patterns. 

There are countless forms of psychotherapy, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT)
  • Counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Family and marital therapy 
  • Mentalization-based therapy
  • Dialectic behavior therapy 

Everyone knows the power of talking about mental health. While it might seem like someone just needs to vent about their feelings to a close friend or family member, psychotherapy is more complicated than just chatting. 

A trained psychotherapist will help their client tackle whatever is causing stress, whether it’s a specific problem in life or a mental illness.

No psychotherapy session is the same, as the psychotherapist will approach the sessions differently according to the individual and whatever they need tackling. 

Psychotherapists are trained in a vast range of techniques and strategies to help their range of clients. This typically starts with developing a therapeutic relationship with the client, which is essential for creating a potentially difficult dialogue. 

Types Of Psychotherapy 

Now we have a definition of psychotherapy, let’s take a further look at the types of psychotherapy on offer. Within these four main types of psychotherapy comes a myriad of therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Individual Psychotherapy

Individual psychotherapy is a one-on-one session between the client and a psychotherapist. These are most common for people who are dealing with mental illnesses or specific stresses in their life, and wish to keep it private. 

Couples Therapy 

Couples Therapy 

This is where a couple in a relationship, such as a marriage or cohabitation, will work with a therapist to find ways to improve their relationship. 

Family Therapy 

Family therapy is offered to improve the dynamic between families. It can be as specific as a mother and son, or can include an entire family. 

Group Therapy 

This therapy is offered to a small group of clients who share a common goal, such as substance abuse groups or groups that focus on grief. These options are generally cheaper than individual therapy. 

What Are Psychotherapy Techniques?

Contrary to popular belief, psychotherapy isn’t about lying down on a couch, talking to a therapist who sits in an armchair, occasionally scribbling nonsensical notes.

There are lots of techniques within psychotherapy that are catered towards the individual and their personal issues. 

The techniques will also vary depending on the psychotherapist’s training and experiences. Anyone who has ever had therapy or counseling will know that not every therapist will be perfect for you.

So, it’s good to know that each therapist will have their own techniques and strategies – some of which may be more beneficial to your preferences than others. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is undoubtedly the most well-known psychotherapy technique. CBT works to help the individual understand the thought processes and feelings that directly influence their behaviors.

It is most commonly used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and phobias. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy uses behavioral and cognitive techniques to understand the root of negative thoughts and behaviors.

Once the root has been found, the therapist will then use cognitive techniques to help the client change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

A good way to look at CBT is to imagine a ball of knotted wires. While they take a long time to untangle, the wires are rooted in an electrical system somewhere.

It takes time to untangle the wires, and even to train them back into an organized and subservient state, before they can be used once again. 

Humanistic Therapy 

Humanistic psychology is a school of thought that originated in the 1950s. This technique was largely developed by Carl Rogers, who developed client-centered therapy.

Client-centered therapy is where the therapist shows unconditional positive regard to the client. 

Humanistic therapy is still largely used to this day to build a positive relationship between the psychotherapist and client.

Without this humanistic approach, the client will struggle to achieve self-exploration and self-actualization with an unsympathetic therapist. 

Psychoanalytic Therapy 

Psychoanalytic therapy is most synonymous with Sigmund Freud, who is believed to be the pioneer of this technique (even though forms of psychotherapy have been around since the ancient Greeks).

Freud is known for using talk therapy with his clients, analyzing dreams, transference, and free association. 

This approach is intended to delve into the individual’s inner workings and past experiences, to seek out unconscious thoughts that influence behavior. While not all of his techniques are used to this day, psychoanalytic therapy is a huge factor in psychotherapy. 

What Does Psychotherapy Help With?

What Does Psychotherapy Help With?

As psychotherapy is a huge umbrella term for a variety of different therapy options, it can be used to help a range of clients.

It doesn’t matter whether the client has a myriad of mental illnesses or is just looking for guidance in life – there are forms of psychotherapy designed for each issue. 

Here are the main mental health conditions that psychotherapy is known to treat and vastly improve:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Addiction
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders
  • Post–traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorder

Not only this, but psychotherapy is beneficial for people who are dealing with life problems, including:

  • Grief
  • Chronic pain or illness
  • Insomnia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Divorce and break-ups
  • Family problems
  • Stress (such as financial, work, or personal stress)

Does Psychotherapy Work?

Yes, psychotherapy works, and is highly beneficial for those dealing with any life problems or mental health conditions. 

The key is to work alongside your therapist to get the most out of the therapy sessions – so there’s no point in hiding your feelings.

Therapists are among the most trustworthy people in the world, trained to adhere to complete confidentiality. Therapy isn’t a place to hide feelings, it’s the exact place where you should be allowed to feel your feelings without judgment. 

Psychotherapy isn’t always easy. It’s not meant to last one or two sessions, especially if you are tackling deeply rooted issues like mental illnesses.

You need to commit time to build a treatment plan and build a relationship with your therapist to get the most out of the treatment. 


So, there you have it! In short, psychotherapy is an umbrella term for countless forms of talk therapy. These types of talk therapy are essential for understanding thought processes and feelings, with an aim to change our behaviors. 

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