Psychotherapy is the process of working with a professional provider to address behaviors, beliefs, emotions, relationship issues, and/or somatic responses that are causing distress. It is sometimes called counseling or simply therapy. Psychotherapists treat a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, stress, anger management, sex and intimacy, and family and child issues. Possible formats include weekly one-on-one meetings, groups, families, couples, and — increasingly — virtual platforms with live therapists or chatbots.
Therapy can be provided by psychiatrists, psychologists, or licensed social workers, therapists, or counselors. Life coaches, who can be certified but are not necessarily held to strict education requirements, can offer guidance to clients but do not provide psychotherapy.
There are several types of psychotherapy, each with its own defining techniques and suitability for treating specific conditions. For example, psychodynamic methods aim to bring unconscious processes into awareness in order to unlock insight. Behavioral methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and exposure response prevention (ERP), are empirical, action-oriented approaches that help people change the way they typically behave or respond. Somatic methods, used to treat PTSD and other conditions, connect mind, body, and spirit. Humanistic methods cultivate understanding to build self-acceptance.
Approaches are not interchangeable. For example, research has found cognitive behavioral therapy to be highly effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, whereas psychodynamic methods may not be indicated for this condition.
Journalists have helped raise awareness of gaps and biases that block people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with low incomes from equitable access to culturally competent therapists. The Covid-19 pandemic has made things worse. In 2021, three major national organizations declared a state of emergency for children’s mental health. Media coverage can play an important role investigating systemic issues that impede access to high-quality therapy, highlighting innovative approaches, and surfacing directories of psychotherapists attuned to identity groups and communities underserved by mental health systems.
Self-care and wellness-oriented activities, while potentially helpful, are not equivalent to psychotherapy. Reporting that implies all a person needs to do is, for instance, take daily walks or deep breaths to feel better is both inaccurate for those experiencing mental health conditions and can stigmatize help-seeking via professional psychotherapy.
- The Different Types of Psychotherapists (Verywell Health)
Psychotherapy is the process of working with a professional provider to address behaviors, beliefs, emotions, relationship issues, and/or somatic responses that are causing distress. Psychotherapists treat a range of conditions and use diverse methods, each with its own defining techniques and suitability for treating specific diagnoses. Reporting that implies all a person needs to do to treat a mental health condition is to, for instance, take daily walks or deep breaths is both inaccurate and can stigmatize help-seeking via professional psychotherapy.