What Is Psychotherapy? Part 2

Originally posted April 8, 2008

Making meaning.
Human beings are meaning-making creatures. Faced with confusion, we will attempt to find meaning, even where there is none. Psychotherapy is about uncovering and addressing those meanings. Meanings that may even be obscure to ourselves. A good therapist will gently challenge us to examine inconsistencies in our perceptions and beliefs about ourselves and our interactions with others — and to examine what they might mean. Psychotherapy does not generally come upon “Eureka, that’s it!” sorts of answers, although such insights may suggest further avenues of inquiry. It is a very process focussed endeavor that studies our questions about ourselves in a sustained, methodical, and patient manner.

Recognizing patterns. 
Before we can begin to understand our patterns, we have to become aware of them. Part of what psychotherapy does is help to make people more aware of patterns and behaviors that they themselves might not have noticed. It is a process of teasing out the many possible sources that contribute to those behaviors. Many patients express a sense of relief when they are able to bring new meaning to a past situation they had viewed simply from one perspective.

Of course, there’s much more to it. Look for Part 3.

Also see: Part 1 and the related post, When does therapy end?

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.