An introduction to psychotherapy



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AN INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOTHERAPY
Psychotherapy is
“...essentially a conversation which involves listening to and talking with those in trouble with the aim of helping them understand and resolve their predicament.”   Brown and Pedder.
“...an interpersonal process designed to bring about a modification of feelings, cognitions, attitudes and behaviour which have proven troublesome to the person seeking help.”   Hans Strupp
“...the art of alleviating personal difficulties through the agency of words and a personal, professional relationship”.   Anthony Storr
All stress the relationship (usually an intense, emotionally charged confiding relationship) between therapist and patient. Hobson calls this an “equal asymmetrical relationship”   equal in that it involves a meeting between two persons; asymmetrical in that one of them is, and remains, a professional carer. This relationship is distinguished from advice, support, a shoulder to cry on, etc from friends and family.
Types of psychotherapy differ in their duration (days in crisis intervention to years in psychoanalytic therapies), depth, format and in the techniques employed. There are many possible strategies with different levels of personal commitment or involvement; different goals (e.g. resolving immediate crisis vs. personality change); different emphasis on parts of therapeutic relationship (e.g. dynamic vs. behavioural).
Format
Crisis intervention   active treatment only at times of crisis. Provide supportive framework to reduce anxiety. Objectives are short  term problem solving and teaching new problem solving skills.
Supportive psychotherapy   supports and promotes patients’ best possible emotional and social functioning, boosts self esteem. There is the danger of promoting dependence with no clearly defined therapeutic aims. “Support” should be a treatment, NOT an alternative to treatment.
Symptom orientated psychotherapy   the goal is relief of symptoms or specific problems. May be behavioural or directive counselling. Examples include behavioural treatments for social anxiety, cognitive therapy for psychotic symptoms, psychosexual counselling, bereavement counselling.
Insight orientated (exploratory) psychotherapy   brief (focal) or long term. Usually within a psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) framework. Much of this course elaborates on the principles and practice of psychodynamic psychotherapy.




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