Can you confidently answer that you know the answer to this question? The very fact that you are reading this post means that either you have interest in mental health and ways of its treatment, or you are seeking such treatment for yourself or someone you are worried about.
Everyone seems to know what psychotherapy is, and yet very few people know what to expect when they first come to the therapist’s office. All they know is that they have an ongoing problem which makes their life unpleasant, difficult, or even unbearable, and they want to be helped.
How does psychotherapy provide this help? Here is an article by the Mayo Clinic, which lays out in very simple terms what psychotherapy is, what different types of therapy is out there, what to expect from it and how to prepare for it.
For most types of psychotherapy, you and your therapist generally sit facing each other during sessions. Your therapist encourages you to talk about your thoughts and feelings and what’s troubling you. Don’t worry if you find it hard to open up about your feelings. Your therapist can help you gain more confidence and comfort.
Sometimes a therapist may ask you to do “homework” — activities or practices that build on what you learn during your regular therapy sessions. Over time, discussing your issues can help improve your mood, change the way you think and feel about yourself, and improve your ability to cope with problems.
Because psychotherapy sometimes involves intense emotional discussions, you may find yourself crying, upset or having an angry outburst during a session. You may also feel physically exhausted after a session. Your therapist is there to help you cope with such feelings and emotions.
How long you have psychotherapy depends on your situation. In some cases, you may need therapy for only a few months. In other cases, you may continue therapy for a year or even more.