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What Is Psychotherapy? | Types & Methods of Psychotherapy

In this article, you’ll learn about the types and methods of psychotherapy and where to seek treatment.

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What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a long-term treatment option for a variety of mental health illnesses and disorders. It provides a method of discussing symptoms and understanding the root cause of the illness. Talk therapy is based on productive conversations between the client and their therapist.

Who Invented Psychotherapy?

Much of what is known about modern-day psychotherapy can be traced back to Bertha Pappenheim.

Under the name Anna O., Pappenheim was a client of Josef Breuer, who helped her work through her symptoms following her father’s death. Josef Breuer often collaborated with Sigmund Freud, who is recognized as the inventor of psychotherapy.

How Long Does Psychotherapy Take?

How long psychotherapy takes depends on the individual and their unique needs. For example, someone seeking psychotherapy to deal with current life troubles may need less time than someone seeking treatment for a substance use disorder.

On average, clients can expect psychotherapy to take a few months; however, research suggests that setting a time limit is a relatively neutral factor in therapy, with positive and negative effects.1

Psychotherapy vs. Counseling

Although psychotherapy, therapy, and counseling are all terms used interchangeably, they’re not the same. Counseling is generally a shorter-term therapy option, targeting a specific symptom or problem. On the other hand, psychotherapy is a longer-term treatment option, focusing on the situation or mental health concern in more detail.

What Is Psychotherapy Used For?

Psychotherapy is beneficial in treating many conditions, from mental health disorders to general life stresses. Because psychotherapy focuses on the collaborative process between therapist and client, it offers a way to better understand illness and symptoms while working towards an individualized treatment plan.

Conditions that Psychotherapy Can Benefit

Some of the conditions that may benefit from psychotherapy include:

  • Addiction or substance use disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Life stresses and conflicts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Phobias
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

Different Formats of Psychotherapy

Not all forms of psychotherapy are made equal. There are four different formats of psychotherapy designed to address various issues and focus on multiple areas of treatment.

The different formats of psychotherapy include:

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Marital/couples
  • Family

What Is the Goal of Psychotherapy?

At a glance, it may seem like the goal of psychotherapy is to cure a disorder; however, the goal is actually to find solutions. Many conditions that can benefit from psychotherapy aren’t actually curable, such as bipolar disorder. Instead, psychotherapy is designed to provide treatment by offering new coping mechanisms and fostering a better understanding of the mind.

Common Types of Psychotherapy

Along with different formats of psychotherapy, there are also different types, which may differ in structure or what goal they seek to accomplish. Nevertheless, no matter the type of psychotherapy, all are undergone with the intention to increase mindfulness and foster a healthier mental state for individuals.

There are seven main types of psychotherapy that are commonly used in treatment:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Supportive psychotherapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most utilized forms of psychotherapy. It can be used to treat a variety of disorders, from substance use disorder to anxiety. CBT focuses on helping foster a better understanding of how certain thoughts and mindsets can lead to certain behaviors. As a result, there’s an increased overall understanding of how important it is to practice healthy positive thinking and coping mechanisms.

CBT is also beneficial in identifying triggering behaviors and mindsets. This form of psychotherapy is effective alone or in combination with other treatments. Research shows that the effectiveness of CBT increases significantly on all levels in clients with anxiety who are highly committed during their treatment.2

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Whereas therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy focus inward to treat symptoms, interpersonal psychotherapy, or IPT, focuses outward. This psychotherapy is one of the most similar to the very first psychotherapy conducted with Anna O.

During IPT, the focus is to relieve symptoms by first improving interpersonal functioning. This is especially beneficial for anxiety and depression. One study found interpersonal therapy in conjunction with medication to be more effective in reducing depression relapse than medication alone.3

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. However, DBT is built on different standards and techniques and involves more conversation than CBT, making it similar to IPT in that regard.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on cultivating mindfulness and better self-awareness. Rather than solely focusing on treating symptoms, psychodynamic therapy aims to create a better mental state by increasing awareness about thoughts and feelings.

One study found that psychodynamic therapy resulted in a significant 0.97 effect size for improved psychological symptoms, which increased to 1.51 after a nine-month or longer follow-up. With popular antidepressant medication resulting in a 0.31 effect size, it is clear that psychodynamic therapy is a highly effective form of treatment.4

Psychotherapy for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Psychotherapy is beneficial for treating a wide variety of disorders and conditions, and it can even be beneficial for navigating through temporary but distressing situations. Nevertheless, it is necessary to properly prepare before your first session to get the best benefits.

Psychotherapy for Mental Health

What to Expect in Your First Psychotherapy Session

The specifics of how your first psychotherapy session goes depend on the type of psychotherapy you receive. However, regardless of the type, you can expect to address a few basic topics, such as why you are there, and establish healthy boundaries. This helps ensure that all conversations are productive and work on helping create a better mental state.

How Can You Make the Most of Psychotherapy?

The best way to make the most of psychotherapy is to be open during sessions. While it is essential to go at your own pace, prolonging the discussion of important topics can make healing more difficult.

During your sessions, make sure to be fully involved. This can include continuing the conversation, being open about your thoughts and feelings, and being receptive to different activities. It also consists in utilizing what you learn outside of your therapy office.

How Effective Is Psychotherapy in Addiction Treatment?

Psychotherapy is one of the most utilized treatments for addiction, providing critical coping skills to manage triggers and cravings.

Furthermore, psychotherapy goes beyond regulating the symptoms of addiction to address the cause, bolstering the rates of long-term recovery and creating an overall healthier mindset.

Contact a Psychotherapist at Great Oaks Recovery Center

At Great Oaks Recovery Center, you’ll find a wide variety of psychotherapy treatments. Our certified staff of healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing the utmost quality treatment during your recovery, no matter where you are in your mental healthcare journey.

While Great Oaks Recovery Center provides several accredited psychotherapy programs, you can also find other beneficial services, including continued care. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how to get started.


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Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.