What Is Psychotherapy?

Dive Into The Mind With Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental disorders by psychological rather than medical means. There are many forms of psychotherapy, each with its different school of thought and techniques for helping patients achieve more order in their lives. Did you know that you do not need a mental illness to undergo psychotherapy? Some people attend sessions just because they want to improve their lives; it can be very therapeutic and help one rediscover their ways, thought processes, intentions, motivations, problems, etc.

There should be no shame seeing a psychotherapist. Think of it as reorganizing the files on your computer (your mind); after years of use, it can get messy in there. Psychotherapy can be performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist trained in mental health. Who you see does not matter as much as whether you actually start the process of psychotherapy itself.

What is psychoanalysis? This is a form of psychotherapy founded by Sigmund Freud – one of the greatest minds the world of psychology has ever seen. This form of therapy aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction of your conscious mind and your unconscious mind, and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into your conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation and free association.

You might have seen free association in movies, where the patient lays down on a couch with his or her back to the therapist and speaks whatever is on their mind; this helps facilitate a natural flow of thought and allows the therapist and yourself to understand why you think of the things you do. Freud called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious.”

He believed that dreams provided images, clues and information about your unconscious mind, but because of the difficulty of interpreting a dream’s meaning, it has to be carefully deciphered. This is a little harder to do because many people don’t attempt to recall their dreams. Often, a dream diary is required for this process.

Overall, psychoanalysis needs to be performed 3-4 times a week for a patient to reap its benefits. The total duration of therapy is based on each individual case. And lastly, it can get expensive. Usually this form of therapy is sought out by people who have time and money on their hands. One recent famous example is Howard Stern; he was recently on CNN talking to Anderson Cooper about how he has benefited from psychoanalysis. And boy, did he look like a changed man!

What is cognitive behavioral therapy? CBT is a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression. This is less time consuming than psychoanalysis because this allows a patient to meet once a week with the therapist. This form of therapy does not attempt to analyze your unconscious, nor does it attempt to get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, the root of the problem is very difficult to discover.

For example, you might have a fear of flying in airplanes which started 6 months ago. Prior to that, you never had that fear. CBT does not attempt to analyze why you developed this fear in the first place, because it might have developed from a multitude of factors, which can take years to arrive to or maybe never. Secondly, arriving at the source of the problem will not fix your present fear of flying.

So what CBT does is provide you with a set of tools and techniques to help you comfortably fly again. The therapist might advise you to attend a flight simulation laboratory where you experience the act of flying in gradual steps. Think of CBT as “I recognize your problem, I’ve seen five others patients in my career with your problem, here are a set of tools that have worked for them and which I believe will work for you.”

There are many other forms of psychotherapy. The important point to understand is that some people can benefit from talking more than they can benefit from medications alone, and that there should be no shame or stigma of seeking someone to talk to about your mental health concerns.

The DSM movement is about promoting an open community where people feel proud to share their mental health concerns, and are loving and caring with each other.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


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