Psychotherapist: What Does This Unfortunately Named Doctor Actually Do?

Psychotherapy, known also as “talk therapy,” is one of the most important steps in treating depression, bipolar disorder, and chronic mania. Millions of psychotherapists boast of their skill in the proper treatment of these ailments, but it takes the right fit of patient and therapist to help cope with the feelings, symptoms, and behavioral patterns that contribute to the illness.

It is extremely important to understand that psychotherapy is not simply “talking about your feelings.” Finding the right treatment that solves the patient’s individual problems and works toward solutions is as crucial as finding the right medication for an ailment. Many therapy programs assign “homework,” such as the tracking of mood swings, the keeping of a journal or diary, or even participating in social activities that caused anxiety to patients before treatment. A patient is pushed to look at their surroundings in a new light and figure out new ways to interact with the strangers that surround them.

Fears that sessions are too long are ungrounded, as most psychotherapy is a short affair that focuses on the patient’s thoughts, moods, and life issues during that day or week. Examining past experiences is important to understanding and explaining the struggles patients face in life, but a good psychotherapist is focused on what the patient experienced that day in order to address problems and prepare for the future. A better psychotherapist makes clear to patients that therapy is never without an end in sight. Treatment that began as a weekly struggle will later become less frequent as patients gather the skills needed to manage problems and avoid triggers on their own.

Psychotherapy Will Help

  • Understanding the cause of illness
  • Coping with stresses and mood swings
  • Overcoming daily worries and perceived insecurities
  • Establishing a consistent, reliable routine
  • Creating a plan of attack for dealing with crises

How to Get Started

It is crucial that the patient comes to therapy prepared. A great idea is to create a list of what causes stress and what issues are inhibiting a healthy lifestyle. Bringing a list to the first appointment gives the psychotherapist a starting point and reduces the number of unwanted questions. Be prepared to talk about family, relationships, eating and sleeping habits, and all troubling or dangerous feelings.

The patient talks the most at first, because the psychotherapist wants to understand what needs to be addressed. It is important to know what is most wanted from the therapy so that goals can be established. Progress will feel slow at first, but any great accomplishment in life will. There is no such thing as an easy solution for mental illness, but the solution is always within reach.

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