About PsychologyWhat is psychotherapy and what can it offer?
Psychotherapy has been called the 'talking' cure because it is what is talked about -the words- that therapists use to explore and understand the clients' life and their underlying thought patterns. Clients are encouraged to talk about their feelings and to try to put difficult emotions into words. The therapist can also learn about the client and how to help by observing many other aspects of what the client brings into the room, including feelings that are not talked about but expressed in non-verbal ways. Of course, this kind of open communication requires that the consulting room is experienced as a safe, non-judgmental place and that the knowledge that everything that is said is confidential. A big part of feeling safe is that the client develops trust in the therapist and a sense that they are working together in the client's best interests. This can take a while to strengthen and psychotherapy is rarely short term and is often open-ended.
Counselling and Clinical Psychologists can sometimes provide other, more specific, ways of tackling issues and helping your distress using treatments based more directly on the basic scientific principles of psychology. For example, phobias- such as going in lifts or spiders- can helped by very gradually increasing exposure to what frightens you, in safe environment where you are taught by the psychologist to monitor and reduce your anxiety. Post traumatic stress, perhaps following a car accident, can be treated in a similar way. These kinds of treatment can be done in the course of relatively short term therapy.