What is Psychotherapy Anyway?


Funny you should ask.  If you have never embarked upon a therapeutic journey, you might have some questions and/or reservations.  For years there has been a stigma around psychotherapy based on misunderstandings, the primary misunderstanding being that psychotherapy is for “crazy” people.

We think that the rest of us high functioning adults don’t need such a thing because then we might be admitting that we are “crazy” – to ourselves or to others. Ironically, in the part of the country where I grew up, no one went to therapy for that reason, and the rates of alcoholism and suicide were pretty darn high.  I often wonder how many of those lives could have been saved or dramatically improved if they had not been so afraid of being thought about as “crazy.” 

In discussing “what is psychotherapy”, there is no one answer because the practice has been evolving since Freud began what has been traditionally understood as the therapy model.  If you go to a Freudian analyst, then you might find yourself on the couch free associating as is the Freudian tradition. But as there are now hundreds of different modalities, it is less likely that will be the case.

For example, in a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) session, the therapist functions more like a consultant and the dialogue focuses more on perceptions of problems rather than on emotions. In holistic psychotherapy, which I practice, there is equal importance given to mind, body and spirit, as it is understood these three elements of the person are inextricably linked.  

If you ask me what is psychotherapy, I will start by saying this:  You and I will sit down in a comfortable room in which everything you tell me is strictly confidential.  We will create a safe space in which you can unburden yourself of your fear, anxiety, sadness or grief. It can be a great weight off once you are no longer concerned about burdening family or friends with persistent troubles.  And you also needn’t fear being judged as I am showing up to each session with unconditional positive regard. (And by the way, it is really hard to shock me.)

The therapeutic alliance is based on trust and a shared goal of having you reach your highest potential.  Our explorations go at a pace that feels right to you, and most people find that once they get over their anxiety about starting the process, the process itself is less scary than they had imagined.  Often we find that the thing we have been afraid to face shrinks when we finally look at it head on, instead of trying to push it down or run away from it.  

Most first-time clients express enormous relief once they have finally made the decision to come and they have talked through their first session.  You are always welcome to come in for one session, just to see how it feels before committing to an ongoing process. And I am always happy to answer your questions beforehand.  Don’t you deserve the best life you could possibly have?