Psychotherapy is often imagined as one lying on the couch and talking about problems while a bearded psychologist sits in the background, smoking a pipe and providing occasional insight. This visual isn’t far from the truth, although there isn’t always a couch, and the beard and pipe are completely optional. Psychotherapy does involve talking, though, and is sometimes referred to as “talk” therapy for this reason.
Modern psychotherapy began in earnest with Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, and the format has changed very little since then, even as the therapeutic techniques have evolved and a variety of theories have emerged as to the best way to treat the client. Today, there are a wide array of therapies to choose from, and for this reason psychotherapy sessions are highly individualized. The main focus is on the client/therapist relationship, and the strength of this relationship is central to psychotherapy’s effectiveness.
Anyone who feels stuck in unproductive or self-defeating behavior patterns can benefit from psychotherapy. Often, when we’re disabled by habitual behaviors that are blocking us from reaching our potential, we are unable to see it for ourselves, and talking with a therapist who can provide insight will help us to realize where we are stuck. Sometimes we gain insight simply from being in a place where we are allowed to talk about whatever comes to mind, and our subconscious will reveal itself to us as we open up. Certain types of psychotherapy have been shown to be highly effective for people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and issues involving stress, and for those with more severe forms of these disorders, psychotherapy can be a helpful supplemental tool along with medication or other physical interventions.