For many mental disorders, Psychotherapy is a major option to treat psychological disorders and mental distress. During this process, a trained psychotherapist helps the client tackle a specific or general problem such as a particular mental illness or a source of life stress. Psychotherapy involves developing a therapeutic relationship by clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, mental health counselors, occupational therapists and psychiatric nurses who communicate and create a dialogue and work to overcome problematic thoughts or behaviors.

When many people hear the word psychotherapy, they immediately imagine a patient lying on a couch talking while a therapist sits in a nearby chair jotting down thoughts on a yellow notepad.

While many psychotherapists do use this classic type of talk therapy, there are actually a wide variety of techniques and practices used in psychotherapy. Some of the major approaches to psychotherapy include:

  • Psychoanalytic: An approach to therapy that involve delving into a patient’s thoughts and past experiences to seek out unconscious desires or fantasies.
  • Cognitive-behavioral: A type of psychotherapy that involves cognitive and behavioral techniques to change negative thoughts and maladaptive behaviors.
  • Humanistic: A form of therapy that focuses on helping people maximize their potential. Because clients frequently discuss issues that are highly personal and sensitive in nature, psychotherapists have a legal obligation to protect a patient’s right to confidentiality. However, Duty to warn gives counselors and therapists the right to breach confidentiality if a client poses a risk to another person.

One of the major criticisms leveled against psychotherapy is one that calls into question its effectiveness. In a meta-analysis that looked at 475 different studies, researchers found that psychotherapy was effective at enhancing the psychological well-being of clients. In his book The Great Psychotherapy Debate, statistician and psychologist Bruce Wampold reported that factors such as the therapist’s personality as well as his or her belief in the effectiveness of the treatment played a role in the outcome of psychotherapy.

There are a number of issues or concerns for both therapists and clients. When selecting a therapist, clients need to consider whether they feel comfortable divulging personal information to their therapist. They also need to assess the therapist’s qualifications, including the type of degree he or she holds as well as years of experience.