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Top 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Psychotherapy

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Updated October 17, 2012

Answers to your most frequently asked questions about psychotherapy.

1. What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a relationship entered into by a trained psychotherapist and a patient for the purpose of helping the patient either with the symptoms of mental illness or to achieve desired changes in their life.

2. What Are the Major Theoretical Orientations and Modalities of Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is based upon a range of techniques: behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, existential therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, psychodynamic therapy and eclectic therapy. The therapy can be one-on-one or in a group or family setting.

3. What Is the Best Type of Psychotherapy for Depression?

Probably the most effective type of psychotherapy for depression is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy focuses upon the role of thinking and belief systems as the root of depression. During therapy, the psychologist works with the patient to help them recognize their dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and to change them to a more realistic perspective. Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on interpersonal relationships and coping with conflict, and family therapy may also be useful in certain cases. Psychodynamic therapy may be useful, too.

4. What Is The Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy?

While counseling and psychotherapy are often thought of as being the same thing, there are some important distinctions between the two.

5. How Do I Choose a Therapist?

You don't want to waste time and money with a therapist who isn't meeting your needs. How do you choose the best therapist for you?

6. What Do All Those Initials After the Names Mean?

You can tell a lot about a person's qualifications to treat you by that list of initials following their name, but what do those letters really mean?

7. What Should I Expect During My First Session?

Nervous about your first visit to a therapist? Here's a preview of what you can expect.

8. What If I Want to Do Self-Help Instead of Seeing a Therapist?

If you'd like to try self-help, there is actually a very good book available called "Feeling Good: the New Mood Therapy" by David D. Burns, MD. This book explains cognitive therapy and gives you exercises that you can use to practice it on your own.
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