What is psychological therapy?
Psychological therapy is the “psychological treatment of emotional problems in which a trained person deliberately establishes a professional relationship with the patient in order to remove or modify or reduce (retard) existing symptoms, mediate disturbed patterns of behaviour and promote positive personality growth and development” (Wohlberg, 1995). In other words, it is the art and science of helping people. It is also called as “talk-therapy” as the therapist and client agree to talk on a regular basis in a therapeutic setting. The therapy occurs in the context of a one to one or person to person connection known as the therapeutic relationship. Psychological therapy can also be provided in the form of a group therapy setting.
Assumptions about psychological therapy and the truth
Only recently has psychological therapy started gaining a positive opinion in India. It used to be and is still linked to mind reading although there is no empirical basis for this assumption. Therefore, there is no connection between psychological therapy and mind reading. Besides, if we could read minds, we could easily be ruling the world by now.
Apart from this, psychological therapy does not involve the therapist giving advice, moralizing, preaching and making suggestions and recommendations. It also does not influence the client’s values, attitudes, beliefs, interests, decisions with and without any threat or admonition. Rather, the therapist’s role is to assist clients in making decisions that are congruent with their worldview and value system- not live by the therapist’s values.
What does psychological therapy involve?
Psychological therapy is a process more than a one-time visit to a psychological professional. The process of psychological therapy can be understood as three stages. The first stage is that of initial disclosure, the second stage is that of in-depth exploration and the third stage is that of commitment to action.
The psychological therapist follows ethical guidelines. It involves commitment to participate and involve oneself completely in the therapeutic relationship from both the therapist and the client. The therapist commits to be authentic (genuine) throughout the entire process. He/ she approaches the process with unconditional positive regard for the client so that his/her value and belief systems do not influence the therapeutic process. He/she also puts the client’s needs ahead of his or her needs.
The client (as well as those associated with the client if required) also makes a commitment to make the effort to follow the decisions that are made during the process. The two main components of psychological therapy are the therapeutic relationship and the therapy methods (which support the therapeutic relationship). The therapeutic relationship commences from the first acquaintance when the client is provided the right to informed consent. This involves the right of clients to be informed about their therapy and to make autonomous decisions pertaining to it. The clients are also informed about their right to privacy known as confidentiality whereby it is the legal duty of the therapist to not disclose any information shared by the clients unless the client consents for its disclosure if needed (for instance in a legal setting). This is central to developing a trusting and productive client-therapist relationship. Once the clients give contract to the therapy through the informed consent, the therapist then conducts an assessment and diagnosis. The assessment consists of evaluating the relevant factors in a client’s life to identify themes for further explanation in the therapeutic process. Diagnosis, which is sometimes part of the assessment process, involves identifying a specific mental disorder based on a pattern of symptoms.
How does psychological therapy help?
Psychological therapy addresses a variety of issues. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), psychological therapy deals with a range of problems such as school and career/work adjustment concerns, making decisions about career and work, and dealing with school‐work‐retirement transitions ; relationship difficulties‐including marital and family difficulties; learning and skill deficits, stress management and coping with negative life events; organizational problems; dealing with and adjusting to physical disabilities, disease or injury. Therapy also helps with problems in personal/social adjustment, the development of one’s identity, persistent difficulties with relating to other people in general and mental disorders. These are addressed through individual, family or group therapy, through crises intervention, disaster and trauma management and other wide varieties of skills or therapy methods.
Goals are developed in the therapeutic process to deal with the concerns of the client. These are categorised as short term goals, intermediate goals and long term goals. Psychological therapy helps the clients through all the stages of therapy. Right from the start, the client feels a sense of relief, known as catharsis, on being able to share their concerns with someone who is non-judgemental and is there to just listen. Through the middle phase, the client feels a sense of support and empowerment through the therapeutic relationship that develops and this further encourages the client to work towards the set goals. In the action stage, the client is motivated and supervised to follow through with the plan of action that was decided. On doing so, the client feels and experiences a series of positive change in their social, career, educational and functional areas of life. The client also develops useful strategies to cope with the situations of difficulty when they do occur. The mindset of the individual is changed as they view threats and weaknesses as opportunities and challenges.
Who does psychological therapy help?
Psychological therapy helps individuals, groups (including couples and families and organizations. Individual clients could be of all ages, such as children who have behavioural issues, late adolescents with educational and career concerns or substance abuse problems, adults facing marital or family difficulties, career changes or overcoming disabilities, and older adults facing retirement. It also helps individuals who face increased stress and anxiety and have problems such as extreme moods, depression and suicidal tendencies. Furthermore, also helps the individual who has any reoccurring problem that disrupts their normal functioning for a long period of time. Psychological therapy assists groups in problem solving, as well as improving personal and interpersonal functioning of the group and its members. Lastly, organizations can gain from psychological therapy as the therapist consults with the organization and work groups to help set up a conducive work environment in which the people as well as the entire organization can succeed by being effective and efficient to be able to function to their full potential.
Psychological therapies at Direct
Direct follows an eclectic model of psychological therapy also referred to as multi-modal or integrative therapy. The eclectic model is flexible, multifaceted and caters to the needs of the client whereby each client has a tailor-made therapy session designed to be most helpful for the individual. The therapeutic relationship is established from the one to one interaction and connection that the team of dedicated therapists seek to establish with the client. The focus is to generate and spread positivity within the client.
therapists carefully create an intentional, individual plan for each client based on that person’s unique needs. Theoretical approaches that our eclectic therapist might draw on include (but not limited to):
- Behavioral therapy
- Existential therapy
- Expressive arts therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Person-centered therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Queer Affirmative Therapy
A therapist will also choose specific techniques from within each theoretical approach. Some examples of such techniques include exposure therapy, sensory therapy, relaxation therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness. An eclectic approach can be utilized to help people with a wide range of needs such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Coping and adjustment difficulties
- Eating disorders
- Gender Dysphoria
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Relationship problems
- Selective mutism
- Social issues
- Substance abuse