Originally posted in March 2008, here is a very bare bones, but I hope helpful, answer to the question. Points touched upon include: A Conversation Between Two People, Recognizing Patterns, Not A Blame Game, When Solutions Become Problems, An Authentic Emotional Connection, Change Takes Time and Collaboration, and Listening in an Informed, Sustained Way. Psychotherapy is a very unusual but potentially rewarding endeavor. I hope this gives some of the flavor of what is involved.
The links to parts 2, 3, and 4 of What is Psychotherapy? can be found on the “psychotherapy?” tab above.
Individual psychotherapy is a conversation between two people — where one person predominantly talks and the other predominantly listens. The goal of the conversation that develops is to foster insight into the nature of the person doing most of the talking, as well as insight into that person’s problems. But insight is not enough. The important work is somehow getting that insight to stick. To incorporate it into that person’s life in meaningful ways that in turn helps that person better adjust to their life.
Even such a simple definition leaves so much that is important out, and there are so many questions it raises, and statements that beg qualification. Look for Part 2.
Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.