Traditionally, it is believed that psychology has to do with suffering and mental disease model and psychologist will look for what is wrong with people. However, recent developments in the field of psychology resulting from the wonderful work of researchers, such as Martin Saligman, Dan Gilbert and Nancy Etcoff, is changing the way the field of psychology, psychologists and eventually people in general view mental health. A new and improved approach is developing to move away from pathologizing and move toward positive psychology with the main aim of expanding strengths rather than weaknesses.
How Does Psychotherapy Work?
During psychotherapy, the individual’s brain goes through the process of neuroplasticity which is the idea that new networks is formed and activated in the brain and these new networks are created and strengthened through practicing something new over and over again. By focusing and paying attention to what you are doing and saying, either positive or negative, you can build stronger brain network and wiring.
The role of emotion in therapy is also important. Your negative and positive emotions travel through two specific part of the brain called amygdala and prefrontal cortex which is most advance part of your brain. Psychotherapy strengthens the connection between instinctual part of the brain and the advance part of the brain which plays an essential role in making rational, logical and insightful decisions. When the advance part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) and the more instinctual part of the brain (limbic system including amygdala) are integrated, one is better able to consider the consequences of behaviors and make better decisions. A normal human better processes about 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day; psychotherapy allows your brain to slow down and become free of the racing thoughts resulting from unfiltered subjective emotional states and to be more objective and realistic.
What is the Role of a Psychotherapist in the Treatment?
Often time people say “if I needed to talk to someone, I would talk to my friend, family or colleagues for free! Why would I pay to talk to a stranger?” This sound like a legit argument, however, you should realize that your relationship with your therapist is the only human relationship in which the person sitting in front of you is there to help you grow and has no stake in your life other than genuine care and willingness to support. In other relationships there is a give and take and people (even parents) have expectations of you; your therapist does not have expectation of you and will only support you in whatever direction YOU intend to go.
Regardless of the type of therapy your therapist uses (i.e., psychodynamic, CBT, humanistic, etc), the most important element in the effectiveness of therapy is your therapeutic relationship with your therapist. This relationship has different components such as 1) the feelings the therapist and the client have toward each other 2) Therapist’s ability to hold client’s internal feeling and emotions without judgment and 3) to create a safe environment where the client can freely experience their own positive and negative emotions. A good therapist, does not tell you
What is the difference Between Therapy, Psychotherapy and Counseling?
Therapy, psychotherapy and counseling are words that are often used interchangeably to refer to the work done with a mental health professional such as a therapist, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, marriage and family therapist or a social worker. Even though counseling consist of the same type of work with the same professionals, it has a more directive approach where the counselor provides guidance. Individuals, couples and families may seek therapy or psychotherapy to help them resolve emotional difficulties that are negatively affecting their lives or their relationships.
Everyone seeks therapy with their own specific goals and expectations, and it is the work of the therapist to make sure the goals are healthy and achievable. The purpose of therapy is to support you to find your path to mental health. Psychotherapy is a collaborative process; decisions will not be handed down by your therapist but will be agreed upon by the two of you as a team.
Whether you are experiencing anxiety, depression, marital problems, trauma, abusive romantic or family relationships, your situation is unique and through a collaborative process you and your therapist will customize the best treatment approach. The number of visits and outcomes are variable depending on each person and the therapeutic relationship is always confidential.
Successful psychotherapy will have profound life-changing effects. It will help you eliminate thoughts and behavior patterns that are causing turmoil in your life and replace them with effective attitudes and positive coping skills. Your therapist will not perform miracles but she will hold your hand and support you unconditionally through the process of your personal development and growth.