Psychotherapists aim to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing through therapy sessions. The goal of such therapy may be to change a particular type of behaviour, tackle a troublesome belief, or overcome bad habits.
1. Who can be a psychotherapist?
Professional registered psychotherapists can come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some may be trained medical professionals, such as psychologists or nurses. Others may have a background in social work or counseling.
Additionally, a psychotherapist may specialize in a specific type of treatment. For example, a therapist with a background in psychiatry will be able to prescribe medication to a patient, whereas a therapist with a social work background cannot.
2. What training is required?
Before practicing as a psychotherapist, the therapist must complete a training program to develop the necessary skills. These programs can vary in length and will sometimes focus on a specific form of psychotherapy. In some areas, trained psychotherapists need to register with a regulator, which is responsible for confirming that they are qualified to offer a therapeutic service.
3. Therapy sessions
The psychotherapist normally works on a one-on-one basis with their patient or client. Each patient can attend therapy for different lengths of time depending on their requirements and how quickly they progress. In some cases, a psychotherapist may hold sessions in small groups.
The most common example of this is family psychotherapy, which may be useful if the main problem to overcome is the relationship between several family members. Another situation where this may come up is couple therapy, where the therapist will work with two people to deal with certain challenges in their relationship.
4. Different types of therapy
Psychotherapy often takes place as a conversation between the therapist and the patient over a series of sessions. This allows a therapeutic relationship to develop, which is seen by many therapists as crucial to the successful outcome of the treatment.
However, not all treatments are based solely around conversation. Some therapists may treat conditions by encouraging patients to produce art work or perform drama. Music therapy may also be used.
5. Therapy formats
While the traditional psychotherapy session takes place face-to-face, some therapists have taken advantage of new technology to offer their services online. These online therapy techniques may involve the use of cell phone apps or video conferencing technology so the therapist and patient can communicate. Alternatively, psychotherapy can be delivered by telephone in some instances.
Some psychotherapists may ask a patient to take psychotherapeutic medication alongside their therapy sessions. This may be likely if the psychotherapist identifies that the patient has a mental disorder.
Other types of psychotherapy focus much more on the patient’s behaviour or way of thinking. Instead of relying on medication, they try to use behavioural techniques and experiences to improve the patient’s feelings or emotions.
7. Where are psychotherapists based?
Since psychotherapists have a wide range of professional backgrounds, they also work in different areas. Some of them may give treatment in hospitals or clinics, for example if they’re psychiatrists or nurses. In other cases, a psychotherapist may work in the community, which helps them to interact with people who are not receiving medication or other forms of medical treatment. They may also go into schools or youth centres, especially if their focus is on child or family therapy.
8. Where to start?
If you’re looking to see a psychotherapist but are unsure where to begin, you can start by searching online for psychotherapists in your local area. Then, you can read about the types of treatment each of them offers and make a decision on which one sounds most appropriate for you. It might also be a good idea to talk to your doctor, who may be able to offer recommendations.