Counselling & Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy covers a broad range of issues with many people attending sessions to address obsessive behaviours, eating disorders and addiction or phobias which cause anxiety. In addition to this, the treatment may also be used to aid patients who struggle with underlying mental health issues.
To treat mental health conditions and emotions problems, psychotherapy is often used. It is based around practices of psychological analysis and unlike other types of therapy, is designed to tackle deep-rooted problems in relationships and of an emotional nature. This type of therapy is always conducted by a trained professional and can be done either in one to one session or in a group setting.
Through this type of treatment, patients can find relief from a more serious psychological disorder and can help them to implement change and gain an understanding where their emotional issues are concerned. As a result of this, they can find new meaning in life and feel more fulfilled.
How Can Psychotherapy Benefit Me?
By taking part in psychotherapy sessions, you will benefit in more than one way. Primarily, you will be provided with a safe environment to talk about how you feel with someone. They will be non-judgemental.
You will be able to learn more about your problems, and this insight will allow you to improve them. On top of this, you will learn new methods of coping which will further improve your quality of life and bring about a deeper sense of contentment and fulfilment.
For many people, their problems are difficult to talk about but your psychotherapist will provide you with confidentiality, meaning that you can feel secure in speaking to them. However, there are options to take part in group sessions which can be beneficial in including other people in your treatment and gaining an understanding of them as well as of yourself.
When You Should Consider Psychotherapy
Considering to take part in psychotherapy may be intimidating and with such a stigma often attached to it, many people are put off the idea. However, it is important to keep in mind that this type of treatment can greatly improve your quality of life.
There are many reasons why people may consider psychotherapy whether it is a short-term issue such as dealing with the loss so a loved one or a more long-term problem such as a mental health condition – this form of therapy can provide excellent results.
It can be difficult to make an assessment of yourself and determine whether psychotherapy is right for you, but you may think about some of the following:
- Do you feel overwhelmed or deeply sad?
- Have you tried to fix your problems but no change has been made?
- Is your level of concentration being affected as a result of your problems?
- Are you on edge or continually worrying?
- Do you exhibit certain behaviours that are causing harm to yourself or other people such as drinking heavily or being aggressive?
What Is A Psychotherapist?
A psychotherapist may practise alongside another role. These roles might include social workers, nurse practitioners, counsellors and psychologists to name a few. Whilst each of these roles may adopt a slightly different approach to the treatment, essentially, they all have the same end goal. That is to help patients who are struggling with mental health conditions.
A psychotherapist has been trained in the area of mental health and will guide patients as they explore their feelings and thoughts, with the ultimate aim of improving their lives through a ‘talking cure.’
A good psychotherapist will provide the individual with compassion and pick up on what is being said ‘between the lines’ as a way of gaining a greater understanding of the patient. It is also important to note that these professionals will give you a safe and non-judgemental environment in which to undergo your therapy.
Why Is Psychotherapy Applied?
There are many reasons why psychotherapy may be an appropriate form of treatment, in a lot of cases of anxiety and depression it can be particularly advantageous. In addition to this, it may be applied for the following:
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia
- Mood disorders
- OCD, PTSD and other anxiety issues
However, there are instances where the patient has not received a diagnosis for any mental health condition but is struggling within certain areas of their lives. In this case, psychotherapy may be applied for any of the following reasons:
- Solving conflict in relationships
- Stress relief
- For help to cope with a big life change
- Develop healthier reactions
- Help with coming to terms with a health problem
- Abuse recovery
- To help with sleep problems
What Is the Difference Between Psychotherapy and Counselling?
Counselling is a more short-term type of therapy that can be beneficial to people with various mental health conditions and other life problems. However, this approach is designed to work more on focussing on patterns of behaviour and how it can be altered for a more positive outcome.
The difference with psychotherapy is that not only is it a more long-term treatment, it also works with deep-rooted emotions and thoughts. This type of treatment will take a much more in-depth approach and aims to help the patient uncover issues which may affect things such as their relationships and how they interact with the world around them.
For patients with a diagnosed mental health condition, psychotherapy is also a way to help them in gaining an understanding of how their condition might affect their day to day life and allows them to develop a deeper understanding of the condition itself.
What’s more, someone undergoing counselling may focus on one particular problem, whereas a person attending psychotherapy sessions may place their focus on more than one issue.
Different Types of Psychotherapy
A human mind is a detailed place and therefore, psychotherapy has many different forms which aim to cater to the specific needs of each patient. Whilst there are over a thousand recognised types of psychotherapy, we are going to explore some of the most commonly used ones.
Cognitive behavioural therapy also known as CBT is a type of therapy which helps patients to identify and challenge their thoughts and patterns of behaviour that these thoughts cause. This allows them to develop new ways of coping with these thoughts.
Interpersonal therapy works to help people understand and learn to cope with short term issues such as life changes or grief and can allow them to find better ways of expressing their emotions.
Dialectical behavioural therapy is similar to CBT but aims to assist patients in regulating their emotions and as such, may benefit those with suicidal thoughts.
Psychodynamic therapy is an approach which takes into consideration the childhood experiences of the patient and aims to alter old habits and improve life.
Psychoanalysis is another type of psychodynamic therapy but is more intense and requires more frequent sessions.
Supportive therapy allows the patient to explore their emotions and thoughts with the guidance of a therapist and allows for improved self-esteem and assistance in dealing with problems that are associated with their mental health diagnoses.
Alternative therapies such as play, animal or creative therapy can be useful for helping patients who have experienced trauma and can lower stress levels.
What Can I Expect from These Sessions?
For many people, entering into psychotherapy can be akin to entering the unknown but there is little to be anxious about once you understand what you can expect from each of your sessions.
During your first session, your therapist will get to know you and likely ask questions about you, your history and the problems that you are experiencing. There may be some forms to fill in and you will also gain an understanding of what is to come throughout your treatment. This may include understanding the type of psychotherapy that will be used, how long treatment will last, the goals you are looking to reach and will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions.
Where your sessions take place will depend on your circumstances, for example, if you are in hospital, your sessions will likely take place here. However, if you are living at home, you will visit your therapist’s office regularly, this may be once a week or once a fortnight, depending on your needs. Each session will last for just under, or up to an hour.
At first, you may feel uncomfortable but your therapist will help to guide you through the process, gradually making it easier for you to open up. It is not uncommon for patients to become very emotional or tearful during a session which can be exhausting. Do not be afraid to express this to your therapist who will help you to manage these emotions.
There may also be times where you are asked to complete homework tasks which will help you to make positive changes outside of the therapy session.
Where Can I Access Psychotherapy?
If you are looking to take part in psychotherapy, you can speak to your GP who will be able to refer you for treatment. In the past, there may have been long waiting lists but the authorities have taken notice of the great need for this service and these waiting times have reduced significantly. Whilst you are waiting for treatment, or if your problems are less severe, you may take advantage of online material or books which can aid you with self-help techniques.
If you ask your GP to refer you for psychotherapy, he or she will likely refer you to one of the following:
- A community mental health team who will perform an assessment and determine the next steps
- A specialist psychotherapy service which will be made up from a variety of people including consultants who can assess your situation and provide you with the correct care
- A consultant psychiatrist is a doctor who is deeply trained in both psychotherapy and psychology. This is a good option for those with much more complex issues
There is also the option to refer yourself to a community mental health service which can be done by contacting them directly either by telephone, online or in person.
If you would like more freedom than NHS services can offer, there is the option of taking advantage of a private psychotherapy service. Whilst this will come with a fee attached, you will be given more choice over your therapist, session times and other things. However, when selecting this option, it is important to vet the therapist to ensure that they are properly certified and insured.
Does This Treatment Work?
It is thought that as many as 75% of people who undergo psychotherapy will find some sort of success and it has been noted that the process can bring about changes in both the mind and body. As a result of this, patients may notice that they take fewer days off work, their disabilities lessen and they can find more satisfaction.
There have been many studies in which the brains of people who have taken part in this type of treatment have been scanned and the results were similar to those seen in patients who have taken medication for similar purposes.
Provided that there is an equal input from both the therapist and the recipient, there is no reason why psychotherapy should not have a positive outcome.
How Long Does Treatment Last?
There is no set length of treatment when it comes to psychotherapy, and different factors will play a part in the frequency of your sessions and the duration of your treatment. These factors may include:
- What mental health condition you suffer with?
- Your situation
- How long you have been having difficulties
- How quickly progress is made
- Your stress levels
- The impact your mental health problems have on your life
- The level of support you have
Typically, those with short term problems may only require a few weeks of treatment to see a visible difference whereas those with more serious issues may require a year or more of therapy.
Can It Work Alongside Medication?
For many people with mental health conditions, medication is an essential part of treatment, but does it work alongside psychotherapy? In short, the answer is yes but that doesn’t mean that it should.
Psychotherapy can be used as a treatment alongside medication and this is especially effective in patients who have serious mental health conditions. However, in a lot of cases, medication is not always required and it has been proven that psychotherapy can be just as effective. In these instances, it may be best to try therapy alone as well as making lifestyle changes.
Your situation will determine whether or not you will benefit from taking medication as part of your treatment and it is important to discuss your needs with your doctor and your therapist.
7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Sessions
To be sure that your psychotherapy sessions are as successful as possible, there are some things that you can do.
- Find a therapist that you are comfortable with, this will make it easier to open up to them.
- You should see therapy as a two-way street. It is more of a partnership which works to find a resolution to problems rather than a traditional patient-doctor relationship.
- Make sure that you are always honest, this will allow your therapist to help you most efficiently.
- There may be times that you do not feel up to attending your sessions but it is important to stick with it to ensure you get the most out of it. These sessions are also a chance for you to discuss these feelings with the therapist.
- Psychotherapy is a treatment which works over the long term so it is unrealistic to expect immediate results.
- If your therapist asks you to do homework, it is important to do this as it forms an integral part of your treatment.
- If you feel that you aren’t benefitting from the treatment then you should talk to your therapist who may be able to take a different approach.