Psychological therapy/psychotherapy is a journey taken by both patient and therapist. It aims to increase the patient's self understanding, so that they can relate to themselves, others, and their lives in a more aware and meaningful way.
People seek therapy for a multitude of reasons. Some are facing particular obstacles, for example, the loss of a loved one, the break down of a relationship, or problems at work. Others may be feeling a more diffuse sense of disillusion or unhappiness, a sense they are not where they want to be in life. Many people have felt weighed down for much of their lives by ideas and fears related to childhood and adolescent experiences.
When distressed, it is the human instinct to try to find means of relief. However, some forms of armoury/coping strategies can become problems in themselves. For example, one may try to avoid difficult feelings through excessive work or alcohol, or may try to boost self-esteem by trying too hard to please others. These attempts may actually generate more anxiety, depression or confusion and they keep the underlying struggles hidden.
Therapy provides a safe, regular space, and a relationship in which thoughts, feelings and patterns of relating can gradually emerge and be understood. A mixture of developing insight and digesting experiences that have previously been stuck, can help free people and reduce distress.
Beyond tackling acute distress, therapy can also allow a richer way of living to emerge. Having a more intimate understanding of what is going on in one's mind, leaves one in a more connected and integrated state. It is then possible to relate more meaningfully to other people, one's work and other aspects of life.
"Talking therapy" is the umbrella term for many different types of therapy. Therapies differ along a variety of lines such as: the main focus of the work (for example, the relative emphasis on symptoms versus experiences that are outside of awareness); the length of the treatment (from a month or so, to a number of years); and aspects of the role of patient and therapist (for example, whether the patient carries out tasks in-between sessions and how much explicit teaching is provided by the therapist).
The following are links to more information on the main therapies I tend to use: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).