From Academic Kids

Psychotherapy is a set of techniques intended to cure or improve psychological and behavioral problems in humans. The commonest form of psychotherapy is direct personal contact between therapist and patient, mainly in the form of talking. Because sensitive topics are often discussed during psychotherapy, therapists are expected, and usually legally bound, to respect patient privacy and client confidentiality.


Schools and approaches

Psychoanalysis was the earliest form of psychotherapy, but many other theories and techniques are also now used by psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, personal growth facilitators and social workers. Techniques for group therapy have been developed.

While behaviour is often a target of the work, many approaches value working with feelings and thoughts. This is especially true of the psychodynamic schools of psychotherapy, which today include Jungian therapy and Psychodrama as well as the psychoanalytic schools. Other approaches focus on the link between the mind and body and try to access deeper levels of the psyche through manipulation of the physical body. Examples are Rolfing, Pulsing and Postural Integration.

A distinction can also be made between those psychotherapies that employ a medical model and those that employ a humanistic model. In the medical model the client is seen as unwell and the therapist employs their skill to help them back to health. In the humanistic model the therapist facilitates learning in the individual and the clients own natural process draws them to a fuller understanding of themselves. An example would be Gestalt therapy.

Some psychodynamic practitioners distinguish between more uncovering and more supportive psychotherapy. Uncovering psychotherapy emphasizes facilitating clients' insight into the roots of their difficulties. The best-known example of an uncovering psychotherapy is classical psychoanalysis. Supportive psychotherapy, by contrast, stresses strengthening clients' defenses and often providing encouragement and advice. Depending on the client's personality, a more supportive or more uncovering approach may be optimal.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly common where the mode of psychotherapy is dictated by the demands of insurance companies who wish to see a financially limited commitment.

A computer program called ELIZA has been built to perform an automated and extremely simplified version of Rogerian psychotherapy.

There is considerable controversy over which form of psychotherpy is most effective, and more specifically, which types of therapy are optimal for treating which sorts of problems. Psychotherapy outcome research -in which the effectiveness of psychotherapy is measured by questionnaires given to patients before, during, and after treatment- has had difficulty distinguishing between the different types of therapy. All types of therapy show overall effectiveness, with none showing significantly better results than any of the others. Many psychotherapists believe that the nuances of psychotherapy cannot be captured by this type of research, and prefer to rely on their own clinical experiences and conceptual arguments to support the type of treatment they practice.

Research has clearly shown, however, that the quality of the relationship between therapist and patient is a crucial predictor of psychotherapy outcome. In light of this finding, some have argued that the type of psychotherapy by which a patient is treated is much less important than the patient's rapport with the therapist. Accordingly, most contemporary schools of psychotherapy focus on the healing power of the therapeutic relationship.

List of psychotherapies

In the 20th century many psychotherapies appeared in western societies.

The following is an incomplete list:

List of techniques used in psychotherapy

The following techniques may be employed in psychotherapy although which are used will depend on the nature of the therapy

Related topics


An introduction to Psychodynamic schools

  • Anthony Bateman, Dennis Brown, Jonathan Pedder Introduction to Psychotherapy: An Outline of Psychodynamic Principles and Practice; Routledge; ISBN 0415205697; June 2000
  • Bateman, A. & Holmes J. Introduction to Psychoanalysis: Contemporary Theory and Practice; Routledge; ISBN 0415107393; 1995

An introduction to Humanistic schools

  • John Rowan; Ordinary Ecstacy: Brunner-Routledge; ISBN 0415236320; March 2001

External links

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