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What is psychotherapy?

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, which is often referred to as “therapy”, is generally a talking treatment that is meant to help people resolve various symptoms and problems through understanding themselves better. There are many kinds of psychotherapy, see play therapy for a different kind of psychotherapy. Generally, understanding more about your interior world, i.e. your mind and motivations and feelings, is helpful in successfully changing your behavior, which in turn, leads to a better life.

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Some types of therapy focus on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a surface kind of way and are often offered as a short-term therapy. They typically focus on how you can change problematic thoughts and behaviors through various acts of the will, like choosing to think different kinds of thoughts, taking deep breaths, or choosing to behave in a different way. These kinds of therapies sometimes have homework or charts or various aides that you are asked to do or make or keep. Sometimes they involve advice from the therapist. These types of therapies don’t usually try to look at the roots and deep reasons for your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Rather they focus on strategies to deal with them. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an example of this kind of therapy.

Other types of therapy focus more on understanding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a deeper way. This may involve linking the present to the past or examining dreams and unconscious wishes, or “peeling away the onion” of the multitude of reasons for why we do what we do. Depending on the specific version of therapy, there may be an emphasis on one point of view or theory of mind versus another. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are two approaches to a deeper type of self-understanding. These kinds of therapies are considered long-term therapies and often take a few years, at least, to accomplish their goals. Many people consider this kind of therapy when other therapies haven’t worked well enough.

There are a couple of hybrid type therapies, meaning they involve some kind of action other than talking, as well as talking. One of these is Art Therapy, which involves the use of making art as a therapeutic avenue, in combination with talking. Another of these is EMDR. While EMDR is a shorter-term therapy (months in uncomplicated cases), it utilizes a special technique to go very very deep into the memories, and unconscious, of a person and their traumas, in order to effect deep and lasting changes to the roots of the traumatic memories. Another hybrid therapy involves a combination of psilocybin and talking therapy. This is very complicated and should only be considered with a therapist who has experience in doing this kind of therapy.