home of psychotherapy in Toronto » What is psychotherapy?

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psychotherapy in Toronto at changehappens

If you are under emotional or psychological stress or strain, it can help to get some professional support from someone trained to help you regain or reclaim your true self.

Talking things over with a friend can be helpful, sometimes.  But when that isn’t enough, psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy’ or ‘therapy’ can  be effective.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary (MedlinePlus) defines psychotherapy (using very big words) as the

treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by
psychological means which involves a qualified therapist
who helps to alleviate symptoms of mental or emotional disturbance

Different kinds of psychotherapy treatment are provided by different kinds of therapists. Here’s how to tell the difference.

        • Psychiatrists:  medical doctors who diagnose and treat people with mental illness, who are qualified to prescribe drugs or medication to help ease suffering and/or symptoms.
        • Psychologists: have a PhD in psychology, and also diagnose and treat mental illness. But in Ontario, psychologists may not prescribe drugs or medications (unless they also are also medical doctors).
        • Social Workers: provide a wide range of services (often very practical) to help people and communities resolve problems at various stages of their lives.
        • Psychotherapists are trained to provide therapy for mental and emotional issues on a personal level, for individuals, families and groups. The therapy usually involves talking.

Most talk therapies help people understand what’s happening to them, and provide tools and strategies so people can help themselves function in a healthier, happier way.

There are many different types of talk therapy, each with a particular focus, approach or set of techniques that have been found to be effective.  For example:

        • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) focuses on a client’s thoughts and how these thoughts affect behavior.
        • A Jungian approach works with the client’s unconscious and dreams.
        • Gestalt therapy helps a client become aware of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and anything else relevant to the current problem so that change can take place.

Psychotherapy can also involve art, music, body awareness, movement, theater (as in psychodrama), and spiritual exploration, depending on the therapist’s skills, experience and training.  Gestalt therapy incorporates many of these elements, if the client wishes.

Studies have shown that what’s most important is the relationship between the therapist and the client, which is often called the ‘therapeutic alliance.’ This means it is important for you to find the right person, someone who’s the right fit for you.