Starting Psycotherapy



Etymologically, Psychotherapy derives from Ancient Greek psyche (ψυχή meaning “life” in the sense of “breath; spirit; soul and ultimately “self” in the sense of “conscious personality”) and therapeia (θεραπεία “healing; medical treatment”). So, Psychotherapy is a process focused on helping people heal and learn more constructive ways to deal with problems or issues within their lives, changing maladaptive behaviours.

Client and therapist work together in a collaborative and respectful manner implementing therapeutic techniques and relying on tools that will help the client achieve his desired outcome.

Often psychotherapy will help teach people about their disorder too, and suggest additional coping mechanisms that the person may find more effective.

Most psychotherapy today is short-term and lasts less than a year. Most common mental disorders can often be successfully treated in this time frame, often with a combination of psychotherapy and medications.

Psychotherapy is most successful when the individual enters therapy on their own and has a strong desire to change.

In general, making changes can be challenging for many people, even when they know they need to make these changes and they feel the time is right.

Change can be scary. Change means altering those aspects of your life that are not working for you any longer, or are contributing to your problems or ongoing issues.

We are familiar with our old habits and ways of being, even when we have become uncomfortable with those ways or they are not working for us any more.

It is not unusual to have mixed feelings, to feel anxious or ambivalent when we begin thinking about starting psychotherapy.

“Will I be able to make changes?”
“How can I make them?”
“I have tried before to change, and it did not work. It’s not for me!”
“What if I change and then my partner, family and friends don’t like these changes in me?”

Even the most motivated person who starts psychotherapy often feels anxious and ambivalent about beginning to see a psychotherapist. As a psychotherapist, I understand that it is often a common reaction to beginning the psychotherapeutic process. I know that, first of all, new clients need psycho-education about psychotherapy to help them begin the process.

People often realize that, after they have find a therapist, call and set up an appointment, they feel good about making a commitment to change. They feel that they have set an intention to make changes in their lives. They have started the process making an appointment.

For many people, the first appointment could cause anxiety even because they tend to anticipate what the therapist might be like: “Will the therapist be judgmental?” “Will the therapist think I am crazy?”.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Usually, even the most anxious people settle down after a while.

Some people might also have mixed feelings about paying for their therapy, even if they find a therapist they like. So, stop and think about how you spend money in other areas of your life (£ 8 a day for cigarettes or at least £ 300 for the latest fashion bag), and ask yourself if it is worth it to spend the money to make the necessary changes that you want to make in your life.

The most important investment you can make is in yourself!

You don’t have to be “crazy,” desperate or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy. At the same time, therapy is not usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. So, how do you know if you need therapy?

There are some signs it might be the right time to see a psychotherapist, for example:

  • Feeling sad, angry or otherwise “not yourself.”
  • Everything you feel is intense (internal and external overreactions)
  • Relationships dissatisfaction
  • Feeling need to develop self-confidence and assertiveness
  • Having unexplained and recurrent headaches, a knot in the stomach, chest pain, feeling sick or a rundown immune system
  • Abusing alcohol, drugs, food or sex to cope
  • Suffering a trauma or a break-up and you cannot seem to stop thinking about it
  • Feeling disconnected from the things you liked to do
  • Feeling need to improve your mind-body connection.

4 Myths and Facts about psychotherapy

  1. I don’t need a psychotherapist. I’m good enough to solve my own problems. The therapist will give you an experienced outside perspective and help you gain insight into yourself so you can make better choices.
  2. Therapy is just for crazy people. Therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need help and want to learn tools and techniques to make healthy changes in their lives.
  3. Therapists want to talk just about my parents. Exploring family relationships can sometimes clarify thoughts and behaviors later in life, but it is not the sole focus of therapy. It is not about blaming your parents or dwelling on the past.
  4. People who go to therapy are weak. Therapy is a hard work. Improvement in therapy comes from taking a hard look at yourself and your life, and taking responsibility for your own actions. Your therapist will help you, but you are the one who must do the work.

Millions of people visit a psychotherapist every year and benefit from the interaction. Thousands of scientific studies have shown that about 75–80% of clients who enter psychotherapy show benefit across a wide range of disorders and different therapy formats, including individual, couple, family, and group therapies.