Advertisement
Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

This blog has been retired.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Hide

Friday, August 5, 2011

Myths of Psychotherapy #1: The Purpose of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, talk therapy, and counseling are all terms used when treatment revolves around a patient talking to a therapist every week. This series of blogs aims to evaluate some common myths about getting therapy for one’s mental or emotional symptoms.

Myth: The purpose of psychotherapy is to see your counselor and ‘vent,’ or describe all of your problems.

Reality: This may be partially true. The term catharsis is a fancy one that means letting one’s emotions out.  This can be helpful when a loved one has passed away, for example. This is helpful over a few sessions, but doing this every week for a year likely does not help

Venting and just rattling off problems sometimes helps if an objective observer can help you think through the problem. But the goal of psychotherapy isn’t to have someone tell you what to do, or how to do it.

It is important to tell your therapist what has happened to you during the week: the good, bad, and neutral things. This way the therapist figures out your usual coping skills and ways of dealing with people and social situations.

The real work and cure in certain types of psychotherapy is actually how you relate to your therapist over time. It isn’t necessarily what you say in session, describing your problems, but more the process.

For example, if you are venting and you feel your therapist disagrees with you, then you might get angry and defiant, or perhaps sad and feel let down. But to get the most out of your therapy, it would be best to tell your therapist that his or her comment made you feel angry, sad, abandoned, etc. and discuss this interpersonal problem rather than just go on talking about the flat tire you got on the way home from work.

This works on the process and patterns between you and your therapist and may actually give you better skills for dealing with these tough situations in everyday life when other people let you down, abandon you, or make you feel angry, or sad. This way you will know how to handle these situations better without getting depressed, anxious, drunk, violent, or suicidal.

Posted by: Thomas L. Schwartz, MD at 7:54 am

Comments

Leave a comment