Psychotherapy At The Westlake Clinic

Psychotherapy is the development or a formal and professional relationship with a psychotherapist that enables the client to confront and explore difficult and often painful experiences and emotions to aid the clients in dealing with the stresses and strains of modern living. The sessions can explore feelings of grief, depression, anxiety, trauma or loss of meaning and usually include increasing the individual's sense of well-being and reducing subjective discomforting experience.

There are many different types of psychotherapy. They are all ways of helping people to overcome stress, emotional problems, relationship problems or troublesome habits. What they have in common is that they are all treatments based on talking to another person and sometimes doing things together. They are "talking treatments".

Psychotherapy may be provided for individuals or children, couples, families and in groups. The psychotherapist works with clients that have emotional, behavioural, psychological or mental difficulties. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behaviour change, which are designed to improve the mental health of a client or patient, or to improve group relationships (such as in a family). Psychotherapists may also include other modalities including psychology, marriage and family therapy, clinical social work, counselling, psychiatry and music therapy.

Within a session, the main focus is to encourage the client to talk and explore their feelings, beliefs and thoughts around the difficult incident or area, this may include going back to specific events in their childhood. Practitioners help the client understand their problems and try to re-address their thinking or behaviour. Treatments can carry on for a long period of time.

Different types of Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy
This focuses on the feelings we have about other people, especially our family and those we are close to. Treatment involves discussing past experiences and how these may have led to our present situation and also how these past experiences may be affecting our life now. The understanding gained frees the person to make choices about what happens in the future.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy may involve quite brief therapy for specific difficulties. If problems are long-standing, treatment may mean attending regular sessions over many months.

Behavioural psychotherapy
This tries to change patterns of behaviour more directly. Patients can be helped to overcome fears by spending more and more time in the situation they fear, or by learning ways of reducing their anxiety. They may be given 'homework' exercises, and asked to keep diaries or to practice new skills between sessions.

Behavioural psychotherapy is particularly effective for anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessive-compulsive problems and various kinds of social or sexual difficulty. Relief from symptoms often occurs quite quickly.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Like behavioural psychotherapy, it aims at changing thinking patterns directly, but like psychodynamic psychotherapy it encourages discussion of how we think and helps us to get rid of destructive ways of thinking. It does not focus very much on the past - more on the present and future and has achieved particular success in the treatment of certain types of depression.

Family and Marital Therapy
People's problems will often not be theirs alone, but are often the result of relationship problems in a marriage, partnership or family. By focusing very clearly on the relationships involved, and by involving all the people concerned, family and marital family therapy seek to help those relationships to work better.  In marital therapy, a therapist or pair of therapists will meet with a married or committed couple so that they can work on their problems jointly.  In family therapy, the whole family will be involved usually talking over their difficulties with a pair of therapists.

What actually happens?
Psychotherapy usually involves regular meetings at the same time, same place every week or two weeks. In most cases the length of the treatment will be agreed between the client(s) and the therapist(s) within a month or so of starting. What happens during a session is usually considered confidential to the people in that session.

In individual psychotherapy, one patient and one therapist talk together in a quiet room, usually for 50 minutes or so.

In group therapy, several people with similar sorts of problems meet regularly with a therapist or therapists. These sessions may be longer than in individual psychotherapy. Group therapy may appear less intimate, but it is not a cheap or second-rate treatment - in fact it is the best treatment for some problems. The experience of discovering one is not alone, and of being able to help other people, is powerfully encouraging and is often the first step towards getting better.

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