Elizabeth, a 30-year-old woman, had been undergoing treatment for depression for the last 2 years and she has been regularly consuming the medicines that were being prescribed by the doctor. However, during the last check-up, Elizabeth was informed by her doctor that a few sessions of Psychotherapy would do her more good than the medicines that she has been consuming on a regular basis. Since then, Elizabeth has been finding her mind to be clouded with various questions regarding psychotherapy.

In another similar situation, David, a 21-year-old boy, was finding it almost impossible to cope up with his recent break up after being in a relationship for the last 3 years. He has been refusing to meet his friends, has been skipping classes and most of the time would find himself locked up in his room and in bed. When his closest friend realized how much David was suffering, he suggested that David attend a few sessions of Psychotherapy. But David was unwilling as he had no clue what the term Psychotherapy meant.

So then, what exactly is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a process that comprises a structured relationship between the therapist and his/ her clients. The purpose of establishing this relationship is so that the therapist may help the clients to overcome problems that are related to problems associated with the way in which the client thinks, feels or behaves. Psychotherapy is a process that is aimed at eliminating or controlling the troubling symptoms that are being experienced by the clients so that they may lead their lives in a much better manner - in a more functional way, with a focus on holistic well-being.

At the core of the process of Psychotherapy is a relationship, which is deliberately formed between the therapist and the client and is then nurtured by the therapist. It is a professionally established relationship with a clear goal in view, where the goal is achieved through collaboration between the therapist and the client. Psychotherapy is always conducted by a trained professional and in India, before one opts for Psychotherapy, the person needs to ensure that the therapist is registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), because no matter how much one tries to dilute the concept of Psychotherapy, it is essentially a treatment process. Psychotherapy is essentially focused on the treatment of emotional problems, which is manifested in a variety of ways, for example through behaviours, somatic concerns or problems in interpersonal relationships.

Thus, to define the process of Psychotherapy, “Psychotherapy is the treatment, by psychological means, of problems of an emotional nature in which a trained person deliberately establishes a professional relationship with the patient with the object of removing, modifying or retarding existing symptoms, mediating disturbed patterns of behaviour and promoting positive personality growth and development” (Wolberg, 1967)."

To summarise, Psychotherapy is a treatment procedure where emotional problems are removed, healed or modified. The basic aims of Psychotherapy may be presented at follows:

  • Providing information
  • Facilitating emotional adjustments
  • Enhancing mental health
  • Understanding and accepting the problem
  • Developing resources to take adaptable and realistic decisions
  • Inculcating coping skills
  • Facilitating interpersonal interactions
  • Bringing about attitudinal change.

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