From psychoanalysis to cognitive behavioral therapy, and from group therapy to family therapy, psychotherapy takes many different forms. But all forms share one thing: a patient who wants to change some aspect of his thoughts, emotions, or behaviors. That's because psychotherapy's based on the idea that solutions reside within the individual. The psychotherapist's role is to facilitate positive changes by building supportive and trusting relationships with patients. The therapist is a neutral party who is not self-serving or personally invested in the relationship. She is also trained in human development, emotions, and coping skills. In these key ways, visiting a therapist is different than sitting down to talk to a loved one. During psychotherapy, a patient learns as much as possible about his mental illness, the personal history and thought processes spawning it as well as how the condition affects and appears to others. Even patients without diagnosable mental illnesses benefit from dissecting their own behaviors. Learning positive, constructive attitudes and behaviors helps patients build more satisfying lives. Psychotherapy will not be effective for unwilling patients and even the most dedicated patients won't benefit from psychotherapy alone. Some require specific prescription medication, or electric brain stimulation, in addition to their psychotherapy treatment. It's impossible to truly "cure" mental illness, but psychotherapy can significantly reduce symptoms and improve life.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012