What is Therapy?
“We May Define Therapy As a Search For Value” Abraham Maslow
Therapy (sometimes called talk therapy/counselling or psychotherapy) is the process of working with a qualified or licensed therapist in order to treat behavioural, cognitive and emotional difficulties. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help individuals develop healthier habits or coping skills in dealing with these difficulties. Psychotherapy can help increase well-being and promote healing.
Therapy can easily be understood as:
A safe space: What this means is that, therapy is an environment in which you can talk about things that you are mostly worried about or struggling with in an open and honest manner without feeling judged. It is a space where you can be vulnerable without any fears of being harmed emotionally, psychologically or even physically.
A Confidential space: Confidentiality is a basic requirement of psychotherapy. No genuine therapy can occur unless you trust in the privacy of the discussions with your therapist, so your therapist has the responsibility to define and promise the degrees of confidentiality. This trust between you and your therapist is essential for working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy.
A healing space: It is a positive, warm, empathetic and supportive relationship that will aid in your healing, growth, fulfilment and finding meaning in your life. Think of it in this way; medical doctors help with healing physical wounds, whilst psychologists/therapists help in healing your emotional/psychological wounds.
A relationship: Also known as a therapeutic alliance. Research shows that the client-therapist relationship forms the basis of success for therapy. The characteristics of this therapeutic alliance include mutual respect, genuineness, trust, lack of judgement as well as empathy. This type of bond, like many other relationships, is built overtime but unlike many others, there are boundaries that should not be crossed. While you can be friendly with your therapist, you should not expect to be friends with them. Being friends with your therapist is an ethical violation, as it creates what is known as dual relationship.
Collaborative: Both you and your therapist need to be actively involved in the process of therapy for optimal results. Some people make the mistake of entering the therapeutic space with the expectation that their therapist will take on the role of “superman” and fix all of their issues. Not only will this result in disappointment but it also defeats the purpose of therapy. The right attitude encouraged is that of understanding that in therapy, you work together with your therapist in gaining insight into your difficulties and experiences and carve out a suited intervention.
Evidence-based: Therapeutic interventions are backed up by scientific research that provides evidence for the reliability of the treatment.
Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma or medical illness, loss; like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Also, psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies where there is a need.
Therapy may be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting, and can help both children and adults. Sessions are typically held once a week for about 40 to 50. It can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term (months or years), dealing with longstanding and complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are jointly planned with your therapist and tailored to honour and meet your specific needs.
These days, there are different ways of being in therapy including online or in-person. Additionally, the modes of online therapy can be by text message, phone, or live video, depending on what’s convenient for you. Therefore, the best therapy for you will be that which closely aligns with your reasons for considering therapy.