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Psychotherapy

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Psychotherapy

Talking to someone and feeling heard and understood is a deeply satisfying feeling and human need. Imagine if someone were trained to listen and understand.

  • What is the definition of psychotherapy?
  • What are the types of psychotherapy?
  • What are some psychotherapy techniques?
  • What is interpersonal therapy (IPT)?
  • What is ketamine-assisted therapy (KAP)?

Psychotherapy Definition

Psychotherapy is the most popular form of mental health treatment used today.

Psychotherapy refers to mental health treatment that includes talk therapy to help people with a variety of mental health conditions and emotional difficulties.

Several topics may be covered in psychotherapy, including our thought patterns, relationships, emotions, behaviors, habits, obstacles, and goals. Psychotherapy is commonly used by therapists, developmental and child psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and psychoanalysts.

Psychotherapy, therapist placing hand on patient arm in support, StudySmarterPsychotherapy and emotional support, Freepik.com

Psychotherapy is meant to be a safe and confidential environment in which a person may freely share and therefore heal. There are, however, just a few times in which a psychotherapist must break confidentiality.

Psychotherapists are considered mandatory reports. This means that they must report anything that may put the client or others in imminent danger. They must also report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect. To be considered an imminent danger, the person has to have a plan, intent, and means to hurt themselves or others.

A person may seek psychotherapy for several reasons, but it is usually to achieve personal growth or to overcome psychological difficulties.

Psychotherapy Types

Not all psychotherapies are made alike. Some are longer or shorter than others and may even be in a different form altogether. The most common type of psychotherapy is individual psychotherapy, in which a person meets one-on-one with the therapist. All goals are focused on the personal growth and healing of that person. A strong client-therapist relationship is especially important in individual therapy is it is meant to be a safe place for a person to share the deepest parts of themselves.

Couples psychotherapy is when romantic partners (not necessarily married) meet with a therapist to resolve issues or increase intimacy within their relationship. The focus isn't necessarily geared toward individual growth unless it directly applies to the issues in the relationship. Sometimes, a couples therapist may meet one-on-one with each person in order to build rapport and gain additional insight into how the couple functions.

Family therapy usually involves every member of an immediate family, meaning the mother, father, and children. This type of psychotherapy helps improve the function of a family and can be especially helpful for adoptive families or families who have endured trauma. The goal is usually to improve communication and create a safe, mutual place to hash out deep-seated issues. Family therapy can also help members of the family cope with a relative's mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar.

Finally, group therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which five to fifteen people meet together for an hour or two each week in order to make positive changes in their lives. Groups may be designed for people with similar problems such as substance use, depression, obesity, panic attacks, eating disorders, social anxiety, or chronic pain. Or they may be designed to offer support to people going through similar hardships, such as the loss of a loved one, sexual assault survivors, or military veterans.

Psychotherapy, five people sitting in circle in chairs, StudySmarterGroup therapy, Freepik.com

Psychotherapy Techniques

There is a broad range of psychotherapy techniques used today, and they are still expanding. Modern research has allowed psychologists to uncover several phenomena of the brain and behavior that continues to provide answers but also create more questions. Let's look at some of the most common psychotherapy techniques used today.

Psychodynamic/Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is rooted in the ideas of the "Father of Psychoanalysis," Sigmund Freud. Freud's goal was to uncover subconscious desires and motivations. By doing so, he believed it would reveal the hidden cause of their psychological distress. Psychodynamic therapy stems from the ideas of psychoanalysis in that it seeks to uncover hidden past events or trauma from childhood. This type of therapy aims to help a person pinpoint moments in their past that might be causing their present distress. Once the cause is revealed, the therapist can begin working through it with the client.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy focuses on the whole person and all the parts that make them who they are. Rather than focusing on the past like psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapies, humanistic therapy focuses on a person's present. Humanistic therapists use a non-directive approach in which they do not directly instruct their clients on what to do. Instead, they gently guide you towards discovering your healing. You take part in finding your own solutions through self-actualization.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy stems from the behaviorism perspective in psychology. Behavioral therapists believe that behavior itself is the issue and that people can find healing by improving desired behaviors and reducing or eliminating unwanted behaviors. To do this, classical and operant conditioning concepts may be used. Examples include aversion therapy, in which something is paired with a negative stimulus.

Aversion therapy is sometimes used to treat alcoholism by putting some substance in an alcohol drink that makes a person sick. The idea is the person will soon connect alcohol with getting sick and will eventually develop an aversion (or extreme distaste) to it.

Cognitive Therapy

While behavioral therapy is focused on changing behaviors, cognitive therapy is focused on changing thoughts. The idea behind cognitive therapy is that our thoughts dictate our feelings, emotions, and behaviors. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.

If, after a breakup, you continuously tell yourself that you'll never be loved, it can easily lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and disappointment, causing depression. Since not everyone gets depressed after a breakup, the cause must be your thoughts. Cognitive therapy will try to change these thoughts to something less self-defeating, like "Although this didn't work out, I learned, and I still have a lot of people around me who love me."

Psychotherapy, woman crying on flour behind couch, StudySmarterPsychotherapy for depression, Pixabay.com

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best of both worlds between cognitive and behavioral therapy. Where one falls short, the other picks up the slack. CBT has become one of the most widely used psychotherapy techniques. It often follows a clear structure and is usually a relatively short process lasting only about 12 sessions.

CBT helps people learn how to change their thoughts and behaviors to improve mental health. The goal is not for you to walk away miraculously cured but to walk away with clear tools to use in everyday life. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a branch of CBT specifically designed to treat borderline personality disorder. DBT teaches distress tolerance, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Integrative Therapy

Finally, integrative therapy uses a combination of psychotherapy techniques. An integrative therapist may use CBT and later psychodynamic techniques. Integrative therapy can allow the therapist to create a specific treatment plan for every client. It considers the client's needs first and foremost and does not try to fit their problems within a specific technique. Integrative therapy is a popular technique used today.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is another technique that focuses on helping you resolve underlying personal issues that affect your personal, social, and professional lives. Feeling connected to others without conflict can be valuable for our overall well-being.

IPT is time-limited and focused on the present. The goal is to help you learn healthy communication skills that you can then use to resolve burdens and conflicts in your life and with others. IPT effectively treats conditions such as unresolved grief, postpartum depression, sudden life changes, and conflicts with loved ones or peers. It's no surprise that it is a common technique used in family and couples counseling.

In IPT, the therapist may begin by identifying the diagnosis and how it impacts the patient's relationships. Then, they identify an "interpersonal inventory" in which the patient's relationship patterns, capacity for intimacy, and current relationships are reviewed. The therapist supports your ability to assert your needs and wishes in social encounters. They validate your feelings and help you find ways to express them efficiently. Finally, an interpersonal therapist may encourage you to take appropriate social risks.

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)

As mentioned earlier in this article, psychotherapies are continuously expanding, and psychologists are finding less conventional, slightly controversial methods.

Ketamine-assigned psychotherapy (KAP) uses the psychedelic medication called ketamine as a psychotherapy technique for conscious awareness.

Ketamine was initially developed as an anesthetic rug in the 1960s and is the only legally available psychedelic drug next to cannabis. The idea is that ketamine will help the client engage in meaningful psychotherapy. KAP works by giving the client the chance to "zone out" from their ordinary mind or thoughts. It can also help you find relief from negativity and be open to the expansion of your mind to access "self" in a broader sense.

KPT is effective in treating depression and anxiety, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and racial trauma. It is often a viable option for treatment-resistant depression which has not reacted to any other forms of therapy.

Psychotherapy - Key takeaways

  • Psychotherapy refers to mental health treatment that includes talk therapy to help people with a variety of mental health conditions and emotional difficulties.
  • The four types of psychotherapy are individual, couples, family, and group therapy.
  • Common psychotherapy techniques include psychodynamic/psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, cognitive-behavioral, and integrative therapy.
  • Rather than focusing on the past like psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapies, humanistic therapy focuses on a person's present.
  • Ketamine-assigned psychotherapy (KAP) uses the psychedelic medication called ketamine as a psychotherapy technique for conscious awareness.

Frequently Asked Questions about Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy aims to help facilitate positive change and better social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral functioning. Several topics may be covered in psychotherapy, including our thought patterns, relationships, emotions, behaviors, habits, obstacles, and goals. 

Psychotherapy is a mental health treatment that includes talk therapy to help people with a variety of mental health conditions and emotional difficulties.  

Most forms of psychotherapy are evidence-based and effective in treating various mental health and behavioral issues. Approximately 75 percent of people in psychotherapy will benefit from it. 

Most commonly, psychotherapy is used by therapists, developmental and child psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychoanalysts, and licensed. Psychotherapy is meant to be a safe and confidential environment in which a person may freely share and therefore heal.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is another psychotherapy technique that focuses on helping you resolve underlying personal issues that are affecting your personal, social, and professional lives.  

Final Psychotherapy Quiz

Question

Define psychotherapy.

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Answer

Psychotherapy refers to mental health treatment that includes talk therapy as a way to help people with a variety of mental health conditions and emotional difficulties.  

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What does mean that psychotherapists are mandated reports?

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This means that they must report anything that may put the client or others in imminent danger. They must also report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect.  

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True or False? All psychotherapies are made alike. 


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False.

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What are the four types of psychotherapy?

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individual

couples

family

group

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___________ may be designed for people with similar problems such as substance use, depression, obesity, panic attacks, eating disorders, social anxiety, or chronic pain.  

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Group therapy

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______________ therapy stems from the ideas of psychoanalysis in that it seeks to uncover hidden past events or trauma from childhood

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Psychodynamic

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Rather than focusing on the _______ like psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapies, humanistic therapy focuses on a person's ________.

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past ; present

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____________ uses a combination of psychotherapy techniques.

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Integrative therapy

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True or False? IPT has no time limit and is usually forcused on the past. 

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False, IPT is time-limited and focused on the present

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Interpersonal therapists will identify an ________________ in which the patient's relationship patterns, capacity for intimacy, and current relationships are reviewed.

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interpersonal inventory

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________________ uses the psychedelic medication called ketamine as a psychotherapy technique for conscious awareness.

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Ketamine-assigned psychotherapy (KAP)

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True or False? An interpersonal therapist may encourage you to take appropriate social risks.


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True

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One of the goals of CBT is not for you to walk away miraculously cured but to walk away with clear ________ to use in everyday life.


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tools

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True or False? KPT is effective in treating depression and anxiety, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and racial trauma. 

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True

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_____________ is sometimes used to treat alcoholism by putting some substance in an alcohol drink that makes a person sick.

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Answer

Aversion therapy

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What is the goal of aversion therapy?

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To help people eliminate unwanted behaviors such as smoking by pairing the cigarette with a negative stimulus. 

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Which one of these are types of psychotherapy?

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Couples psychotherapy

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Psychotherapist usually maintain a confidential environment; however psychotherapists are______ which means that they must report anything that may put the client of others in___. Also, psychotherapists must report any suspicion of_____ 

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Mandatory reports, danger, child abuse

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Why may someone seek psychotherapy?

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To achieve personal growth

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When is group psychotherapy the most effective?

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When people suffer from the same disorder such as substance abuse or social anxiety 

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Question

Brian is having trouble communicating with his spouse. When they are fighting, Brian usually shuts down and talks a walk to clear his head. Brian has always struggled with conflict due to his parents getting divorced and fighting over him when he was 12. What form of psychotherapy would Brian most benefit from? 

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Individual therapy

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What is the primary goal of psychoanalysis?

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To help the client identify past moments that may be causing their current distress

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Which form os psychotherapy utilizes a non-directive approach with clients where clients are not directly told what to do?

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Humanistic therapy

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What for of therapy focuses on the whole person and all parts that make up the person?

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Humanistic therapy 

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What are some techniques used in behavioral therapy?

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Aversion therapy

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What is the primary goal of behavioral therapy?

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Improving desired behaviors while reducing/eliminating unwanted behaviors 

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This form of therapy suggests that our thoughts dictates our feelings, emotions, and behaviors.  


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Cognitive therapy

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Fill in the missing form of psychotherapy.


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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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What are some tools taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

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Distress tolerance 

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Which form of psychotherapy is time limited and only focuses on the present and aims to help clients learn healthy communication skills?

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Interpersonal Psychotherapy 

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