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Introduction to Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the overarching term for an array of therapy methods designed to help individuals gain emotional, mental, and physiological stability and insight through communication, often guided by a specially trained therapist, and psychological analysis. Psychotherapy differs from such therapy methods as Drug Therapy, in which medical drugs are prescribed to provide psychological aid to a patient, in that no medicinal supplements or drugs are used, nor are the physical methods of such therapies as Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). The individual is guided towards the ultimate goal of self-awareness and positive, beneficial thought through the different methods of Psychotherapy, allowing individuals to maintain healthy and stable lifestyles.

Major Approaches

Within the practices of Psychotherapy, there are three major approaches to gaining the goals of self-awareness and stability.

Psychodynamic

Under this approach, therapy is split into several different Psychological schools of thought. The first, Psychoanalysis, is directed in relation to the assumption that human behavior and personality traits are formed in correlation to conflicts and unanswered desires that occur during childhood, a belief rising from the theories of Sigmund Freud and the Neo-Freudian psychologists that followed during the 1930's-50's. The second is the theories of Gestalt Therapy, developed by Frederick S. Perls. Gestalt Therapy revolves around the biological connection that humans have to external environments, as well as the awareness of the self and self-responsibility. The third and final school is that of Client-Centered Therapy, developed by Carl Jung and relying on the belief that the individual has certain elements within the self that allow them to gain understanding and self-awareness. This is achieved through empathy and personal emotional honesty on the part of the therapist, which in turn allows the client to be honest with personal emotions and feelings as well.

Cognitive-Behavioral

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is based in the Behaviorist school of Psychology, revolving around the concepts of conditioning and achieving conditioned responses from the patient. This is achieved mainly through the use of Talk-Therapy, in which the therapist and client converse and the therapist attempts to guide the client towards a more positive mindset, which in turn allows the individual to condition themselves, due to the positive emotional reward, to think more positively overall.

Family Systems

This approach to therapy revolves around family interactions and culture and how they might affect an individual or the family as a whole. The Family System method involves the attempt of the therapist to draw the patient away from the negative family dynamic itself, while still maintaining positive relationships with family members. The individual must remove their emotional and mental workings from those of the family as a whole, focusing on individual traits to maintain positive thought.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

According to Joan Schonbeck, a registered nurse focused in psychiatry who has written numerous medical articles, and Laurie Fundukian, author of The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health Second Edition, the benefits of Psychotherapy include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased mental insight and understanding
  • The resolution of negative and mentally or emotionally damaging issues
  • Increased self acceptance and appreciation through positive thought and focus
  • The development of more efficient means of dealing with problems
  • The strengthening of one's sense of self