when people feel stuck or experience challenges, a common first instinct is to try to get the challenges out of one's awareness.
this instinct can often lead to more problems. understanding and learning about the challenges is at the heart of many effective psychological treatments.
the three phases of psychotherapy:
what is psychotherapy?
psychotherapy is a form of psychological treatment that is conducted in the context of a supportive and non-judgmental relationship between a patient and a psychotherapist.
the purpose of psychotherapy is to help a patient bring to awareness and work through challenges that are contributing to the patient's problems or symptoms.
copyright (c) 2017 joachim sehrbrock, ph.d., r.psych.
what to expect from therapy
❖ professional, competent, and ethical psychological services
❖ privacy and confidentiality
❖ being an active partner in deciding about treatment goals
❖ sensitivity to unique circumstances and needs
what happens during treatment?
during treatment, talk therapy and other techniques will help be used to help patients understand and overcome their challenges. often this is done through four themes (based on shedler, 2010):
focusing on relationships (including the patient-therapist relationships)
psychological challenges tend to be rooted in problematic interpersonal patterns. when these are brought to awareness and understood, changes can be made.
examining feelings, fantasies, and avoidance
therapists help patients understanding the contents of their minds so that patients can reach their highest potentials.
what makes people feel less stuck is increased self-awareness, self-understanding, and discovering what choices they have. this opens the door to long-lasting and effective change.
exploring present and past experiences
by discussing present and past experiences, psychotherapists help patients understand what keeps them stuck.
identifying recurring patterns and themes
when patients better understand the patterns that get them stuck, they become more aware of their choices and options.
psychotherapy can help address:
❖ psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, grief, low motivation, stress, social isolation)
❖ relationships (e.g., conflict, marital problems, sexual dysfunction, infidelity)
❖ work (e.g., job loss, burnout, lack of creativity or inspiration)
❖ transitions (e.g., break-ups, separation, death and loss, pregnancy)
❖ bodily symptoms (e.g., fatigue, sleep, eating, pain, headaches)
❖ trauma (e.g., abuse, illness, loss, bereavement)
❖ family (e.g., relationship problems, parenting challenges)
❖ developmental issues (e.g., learning challenges, underachievement)
(1) assessment: in the initial phase, relevant information is obtained to understand the patient's challenges and if appropriate to determine a diagnosis. this includes a discussion about the patient's goals.
2) treatment: during the middle phase, patient and therapist work towards a deeper understanding of the challenges and relevant changes.
(3) ending: in the final phase, patient and therapist review what was explored and learned throughout the psychotherapy process.