Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Rhonda Johansson
Is there anything more disturbingly philosophical than the old “Have you seen me?” sign we used to see on milk cartons or on posts? Of course the one who printed the ad was referring to something more physical. Have you seen my child? Have you seen where they could have gone? But a closer inspection of the question highlights an inner need that every human being desires. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, all of us crave to be seen.
This does not have to be quite so literal – no spotlights or a thousand social media post – but just having someone listen and understand tickles the shadow of our ego. The thrill of acceptance can be cathartic for many people.
This provides the basis of psychotherapy, or what is mostly referred to as talk therapy. These therapies encompass a whole variety of treatment, from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to psychodynamic therapy to interpersonal therapy. Each form has its own nuance (particularly in how they are implemented) but all forms of talk therapy involve a patient conversing with a trained mental health professional in order to improve overall mental wellness.
Psychotherapy describes a relatively large practice and is therefore recommended for a variety of reasons. People may seek out the treatment for different concerns, ranging from job stress to the loss of a loved one to even basic irritability. The beauty of the system relies on being able to freely talk about one’s problems without judgment.
Patient sessions can be one-on-one or with other people in a group setting.
Regardless of the set-up however, one thing remains the same. The underlying touch – the whisper of “I see you very clearly” – removes the cobwebs of fear in people’s minds and opens the door for self-improvement.
The treatment is not used to address acute symptoms. Even severe mental conditions such as depression and anxiety cannot be “cured” by psychotherapy. That said, psychiatrists often prescribe psychotherapy as a supplement to conventional medicine. The goal of psychotherapy is to realign mental biases to create healthier, more sound ways of dealing with problems.
Psychotherapy can likewise involve meditations on regression. A popular example of this are the “talking to the child within” programs that more alternative psychotherapists practice. This is when the patient is asked to imagine speaking to one’s self as a child. These programs assume that unhealthy thinking patterns are created subconsciously due to moments that happened in childhood. An overzealous sex drive, for example, could represent nymphomania but could also be indicative of a disturbed past.
Critics of psychotherapy often say that the practice is antiquated. The perceptions involved are somewhat hinged on the Freud school of thought that each of us are products of repressed sexual energies. Treatment plans on psychotherapy – while focused on talking – are founded on the assumption that speaking things out loud will make the intangible tangible, and therefore easier to treat.
Forensic psychology is a classic example of this. Deviants are often asked to participate in talk therapy to “cure” them of their criminal behavior. However, research into the subject suggests that many criminals feel that they are “born” a certain way and not “made”.
That said, psychotherapy is known to help most people deal with fairly typical situations. As was mentioned earlier, the very act of saying things to someone else (who does not judge) can be extremely helpful.
Psychotherapy is a healing practice and is focused on perception. Treatments support the mind.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a treatment that involves a patient talking to a qualified mental health professional about their problems.
Tagged Under: Tags: Psychotherapy