What is Psychotherapy?
By Dr. Gregg Januszewski
Psychotherapy is a professional treatment relationship between a trained psychotherapist and another person, sometimes referred to as the client or patient. Unlike friendships and family relationships, the psychotherapy relationship involves two people meeting and talking in the interest of only one of them, the client. The intent of the psychotherapy relationship is to help the client better understand his or her life by examining patterns of thought and behavior, and to modify them to improve functioning. Many people seek out psychotherapists at times when they need to reduce distress, such as during the grieving process which follows the death of a loved one. Many pursue psychotherapy to help them adjust to living with a mental illness. However, psychotherapy is not limited to only “fixing problems”. It can be highly effective in improving one’s life even when there is no significant problem identified. Many people pursue psychotherapy to increase motivation, gain insight, explore personal potential, etc.
Some people use the terms counseling and psychotherapy interchangeably. I suggest that they differ significantly. Counseling is providing advice in one’s area of expertise. Lawyers are counselors of law. Psychologists may at times be asked to provide counseling about psychology, though doing so is not psychotherapy. Psychological counseling may help inform a client, yet it is like feeding them information only for that day. True psychotherapy can metaphorically be equated with teaching the client to grow food, so they can nourish themselves forever. The client of psychotherapy comes to understand and appreciate their role in other relationships; therefore, they are freer to pro-actively engage with others, rather than being subject to reactive patterns of behavior. Healthy self awareness and more freedom of expression are desired outcomes of successful psychotherapy.
Article on psychotherapy and counseling
Dr. Gregg Januszewski