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What is ‘therapy’ and why do people consider using psycho-therapy?

One definition is that ‘therapy’ means ‘healing treatment, serving to improve or maintain health’. Psycho-therapy is psychological treatment and therefore, a form of help and treatment for improving or maintaining psychological health and functioning.

There is no magic in psychotherapy (although the rapid and sustainable improvements that often come about in people’s lives with psychotherapy can feel like magic has occurred). Another important thing to know about psychotherapy is that the therapist cannot read your mind, whatever you think! However, she or he will have been trained to listen very carefully, to come to understand their client’s current thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the light of the client’s past experiences. From this information the psychologist is able to ‘formulate’ (create evidence based ideas) about their client’s circumstances, often then, the therapist will say things which emerge from careful listening and drawing together pieces of information. If your therapist is able to make such statements, it’s a good indicator that they are listening to you well.

In clinical practice, psychotherapy is a partnership between a person who wants psychological help and support and a professional (e.g. a psychologist who is chartered) and therefore, trained to help people understand their feelings and then to assist them with making changes in their lives which will improve their psychological well-being. People often consider psychotherapy, also known simply as therapy, under the following circumstances:

They feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of sadness and helplessness, and they lack hope in their lives.

Their emotional difficulties make it hard for them to function from day to day. For example, they are unable to concentrate on assignments and their job performance suffers as a result.

Their actions are harmful to themselves or to others. For instance, they drink too much alcohol and become overly aggressive.

They are troubled by emotional difficulties facing family members or close friends.

Dr Laydon-Walters is a member of the BPS
01392 424608 / 07773909721
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