What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is focused on the care of one’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Many phrases reflect the lovely nature of the work, such as “Tending the Soul” or “Tending the Garden”. This focus directly impacts one’s physical health, and directly impacts one’s capacity for social relating.
In the words of an early teacher, “There are many ways to do this (tend the soul)…but the one that involves talking about these things with a trained and experienced person is what is properly called psychotherapy.
There are literally hundreds of kinds of psychotherapy. They might be divided up into four main branches: behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic psychotherapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Behavioral therapy seeks to change troubling behaviors through the application of learning techniques. Cognitive therapy concentrates on correcting wrong thinking, attempting in that way to remove destructive thought patterns that cause problems. Humanistic therapy emphasizes the realization of personal potentials in the caring and supportive environment of the therapeutic setting.
This approach takes it for granted that we have attitudes and responses that arise from an area within us that is not consciously known by us. For the sake of simplicity, this is called the “unconscious”, “subconscious” or “inner mind”. Psychodynamic therapy is based on the belief that if these unrecognized influences on our thinking, feeling and acting can be brought to consciousness, we are on our way to remedying the things that trouble us. There are various ways to get at these unconscious influences, such as dream analysis, therapeutic trances, or just plain talking.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy does not limit itself to the investigation of unconscious influences but also deals with the day-to-day realities of living, whether in relationships, work, or creative endeavors. In addition, it assists clients in discovering their life’s direction and finding out how to realize their dreams.”
For more information on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Jonathan Schedler’s article on The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a great read.