In this article I write extensively about what psychotherapy is, a common question whether you want to see a psychotherapist or want to know more about psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a healing process in which the patient and the psychotherapist work together to facilitate the patient’s well-being and increase the patient’s quality of life.
The client and the psychotherapist agree on the goals, duration and frequency of therapy sessions, depending on the patient’s needs.
To better understand what psychotherapy is, I will refer to the words that make up the term. Psychotherapy (psychological therapy or talk therapy) is a combination of two words: psychotherapy and therapy. Psychic means mind, spirit, soul and therapy means healing.
Psychotherapy therefore means ‘healing of mind/soul/spirit’.
Therapy is a method of treatment for mental health disorders that is non-invasive and may sometimes require medication support for the patient’s illness.
The mental health specialist (psychotherapist) applies treatment in the office through scientifically validated procedures to help the client achieve inner emotional balance, health, better relaxation, healthier coping strategies and more effective habits.
When asked what is psychotherapy and how it helps, I tell everyone that psychotherapy is a patient or client-oriented approach, it’s also called talk or communication therapy and it allows you to talk openly about your feelings, symptoms or things that are important to you. It provides a safe and supportive environment in which you can work with your therapist towards a healthier and happier life.
Where do psychotherapy sessions take place?
Now that you know the basics of what is psychotherapy, let’s see where the sessions take place. A therapist will hold therapy sessions in your office. The therapist’s office is a relaxing, welcoming place where you feel safe and comfortable to talk about your various difficulties.
Online sessions take place on special platforms that offer you security and confidentiality, and last as long as in-office sessions.
Online therapy is a new and effective method of therapy that is delivered via the internet, accessible to those who cannot get to the office for various reasons, or when there are certain global restrictions.
Types of psychotherapy
There is a wide range of types of psychotherapy, depending on the specialisations of different psychotherapists. Just as there are doctors who specialise in various health problems, there are also psychotherapists for various emotional and social problems. Some of the most popular types of psychotherapy are:
Integrative psychotherapy is a type of therapy recommended for a wide range of disorders or problems such as anxiety, depression, behavioural and relationship problems that have a negative impact on the normal course of everyday life.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy that helps us understand how our thoughts and behaviours influence the way we feel. It is best supported by research because it is easy to replicate.
This therapy focuses mainly on the present and helps us to refocus our attention from the past to the present and learn to manage our emotions better.
Group therapy is a type of therapy that takes place with several people in one session. It can be beneficial for some people, as they can learn how to communicate better and express their feelings to others, and get the support they need from other people going through the same problems.
In a group, the experience takes on a different meaning to individual sessions because there are more people interacting, more feedback and communication.
Many therapies offer the opportunity to participate in a therapeutic group. All you have to do is ask a therapist if they support group therapy and make an appointment.
Individual therapy is a type of therapy that takes place between the patient and the therapist, with no other people present. This therapy is the most common and generally focuses on the patient’s personal and emotional problems.
Couples therapy is a type of therapy that generally focuses on relationship and communication issues. This type of therapy is effective in helping couples improve their relationship, learn to communicate more effectively and solve their problems.
Family therapy is a type of therapy that generally focuses on family and relationship issues. This therapy is based on the premise that the family is a unit and that the problems of one member can affect the whole family.
Family therapy helps to improve communication and relationships in the family.
What is a psychologist, a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist and how are they different in Romania?
There are many differences between a psychologist, a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist in Romania. In short, a psychologist has graduated from the Faculty of Psychology and is accredited by the Romanian College of Psychologists, a psychotherapist has graduated from a psychotherapy training school and can see clients for treatment, a psychiatrist is a doctor who prescribes medication (medical treatment) for mental disorders.
What is a psychologist?
A psychologist is not a therapist, but a person who has graduated from the Faculty of Psychology and is accredited by the Romanian College of Psychologists. Just graduating from the Faculty of Psychology without obtaining the necessary accreditation from the College does not entitle graduates to call themselves psychologists.
An example of this is the fact that no law graduates are appointed lawyers.
A psychologist has to go through a process of recognition and registration and specialisation in different branches (e.g. digital law lawyer) to practice this profession. The same is true for psychologists.
A psychologist cannot perform psychotherapy interventions or mental health treatment. To do that, he must study therapy. A psychologist can only pursue other training or specialisations to practice in the field of psychology (human resources, research, clinical testing and diagnosis) or psychotherapy.
What is a psychotherapist?
A psychotherapist is a trained mental health professional. He or she is a licensed psychologist who has attended and successfully completed either a psychotherapy training program offered by a school of psychotherapy or a master’s program in psychotherapy in the university system.
In order to be able to practice the art of psychotherapy in a private practice, a therapist receives a certificate from the College of Psychologists which ensures the right to private practice. If the therapist does not have this certificate, he or she cannot legally practise in Romania.
Psychotherapists use special techniques to help clients improve their mental, emotional and behavioural health.
Make sure the therapist you want to work with has all the necessary accreditations and certificates issued by the College and other accrediting associations.
The psychotherapist does not make a medical diagnosis or prescribe medication. The specialist who makes the psycho-diagnosis is the psychiatrist.
Another job of the therapist may be to talk about what psychotherapy is and to promote education about psychological services, mental health and to reduce stigma in this area of health.
Of course, this is more of an optional “mission” that not every therapist adopts. As a therapist and psychologist, I currently advocate for mental health awareness, the positive benefits of various therapies and psychotherapy in our lives.
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a mental health specialist who has graduated from medical school. He is able to assess and diagnose mental health disorders in his patients. He prescribes medication and individual treatment to each patient to treat mental health disorders.
The psychiatrist may also be a psychotherapist if he or she studies a psychotherapy training programme. If necessary, he collaborates with the psychotherapist in the best interests of the patient.
How do I know if I need psychotherapy?
First it is important to know what psychotherapy is and how it can help you. Then it is good to identify your needs. For example, you may feel that you need therapy when you are going through a critical time in your life or when someone may encourage you to see a psychologist.
I heard from people who came to see me that they didn’t know what else to do to overcome a difficulty they were facing, eventually ending up with a therapist.
You need psychotherapy if there is something, whether it is internal (thoughts, negative emotions, mental health issues) or external (difficult or traumatic events) that is interfering negatively with your daily life. There are other ways to know if you need psychotherapy.
Here are the signs to look out for
Pay close attention to the following issues and how they interfere with your daily life:
- You feel like you’re not functioning optimally in your life. Your productivity has decreased, you’re not taking care of yourself like you used to.
- Everything you’ve tried so far to improve your emotional health hasn’t had any results or the desired outcome.
- You seek substance abuse because you think it makes your problems go away.
- You’ve suffered a trauma or gone through a traumatic event that you don’t know how to overcome.
- You can’t keep healthy boundaries.
- It’s hard to say no.
- Friends and family tell you it would do you good to see a psychotherapist/psychologist.
Psychotherapy or medication?
Psychotherapy and medication are two different ways of tackling mental health problems. Psychotherapy helps to identify and understand problems and learn new ways of dealing with difficult situations.
Often medication is prescribed to reach symptoms, help manage them and improve daily functioning. In combination they produce the best results in the shortest time.
What are the first psychotherapy sessions like?
Once you’ve got past the stage where you’ve made an appointment and reached your first therapy session, your therapist will ask you questions about your problems. He or she will ask you questions about your past, your family and relationships, your mental health, medications you are taking, and your physical health and how you feel in the present.
This information is important to better understand the problem and to develop a therapy plan with your therapist.
A typical average length of therapy is between 45 and 60 minutes for individual sessions, depending also on the approach.
Who needs psychotherapy?
It is not difficult to say what kind of people seek psychotherapy. Virtually anyone can need psychotherapy. Without discrimination or barriers. Often people who need psychotherapy are people who are experiencing difficulties and need to overcome them with the help of a mental health professional.
As a psychotherapist I do not judge people who come to therapy based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, political ideology, gender, social status, place of work or culture. Psychotherapy was not created with a particular type of person in mind.
Therapy was created to help people. The therapist is with you and supports you to make the right changes in your life.
Therefore, who needs psychotherapy:
- People who struggle with mental health disorders (mental disorders) come to therapy, as well as those who take medication for them.
- A patient who does not have a mental health disorder but needs emotional support.
- People who are having a difficult time in their lives.
- People who feel negative emotions almost all the time, feel out of control or the like.
- People who have low self-esteem.
- People who criticise themselves also come to therapy sessions.
- People who want to overcome self-sabotage.
- People who want to develop personally can also make an appointment for psychotherapy.
- People who want to know themselves better.
- People. Basically anyone.
What issues can I talk about during therapy?
The issues you can talk about in psychotherapy are very varied, depending on the difficulty you want to overcome. You wouldn’t want to waste the time you pay for talking about unimportant topics. A patient may do this because they avoid confronting their problems.
Here are some ideas about what issues you can talk about in therapy with your chosen therapist, regardless of approach:
- Anxiety and other anxiety-related disorders: generalized, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety, claustrophobia, health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Depression and other affective disorders: low mood, social withdrawal, major depressive disorder, cyclothymia, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder or winter depression, post-partum depression.
- Traumatic incidents and trauma: post-traumatic stress disorder, rape and assault victims, theft, bullying, accident victims (car, injuries).
- Emotional problems, compulsive eating and eating disorders: binge-eating, anorexia, bulimia, obesity, bariatric surgery.
- Negative body image, negative self-image.
- Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, feeling worthless.
- Difficulties at work: stress at work, problems with colleagues, work-life imbalances, burnout, feeling overwhelmed.
- Problems in family or couple relationships: separation, divorce, repeated choice of the wrong partner, extramarital affairs, jealousy, major life events such as the birth of a child, marital problems, repeated arguments, wedding stress, loneliness.
- Substance addiction and abuse: alcohol, drugs, gambling, compulsive shopping behaviour, phone, TV or screen addiction, social media addiction (Facebook, Instagram, tiktok and others)
- Grief, bereavement, loss, family, relationship issues.
- Various things that bother you or make you sad, unhappy.
- Anything that interferes with your ability to live a happy and balanced life, enjoy your family or relationships.
- If you have questions about therapies, medication or treatment.
- Any questions you have about your therapist, your therapy plan, your therapy goals, symptoms and feelings that surface during a session.
How does psychotherapy help?
Psychotherapy (integrative, cognitive, behavioral, psychoanalysis, and others) helps depending on the goals the client has. As an example, a patient wants to overcome communication difficulties. Psychotherapy can help the client understand what triggers the difficulties, how thoughts and behaviors generate negative feelings, balance thinking, and gain tools to manage difficult moments and improve communication.
Although most therapeutic pathways are based on the needs of the patient, in general psychotherapy can support people in many different ways.
It can improve mental health, help manage mental stress and anxiety, and provide support during difficult life changes.
Therapy can also help us learn new skills, such as coping with grief or managing anger. In some cases of physical health problems with no known medical cause, therapy can be used to uncover and treat the psychological causes.
It can help you overcome the challenges you face in life
If you struggle with anxiety, depression, grief or any other problem, psychotherapy can help you overcome these challenges.
Therapy can also guide you if facing a major life change is something that is causing you difficulties, such as divorce or the death of a loved one.
It can help you improve your relationships
If you are having difficulties in your relationships, therapy and the techniques used can be important tools. It can support you to learn how to communicate better and resolve conflicts. Therapy can also help you to better understand yourself and your needs. This can make it easier to find healthy and satisfying relationships.
Briefly and more concretely, here’s how psychotherapy can help:
- Helps the client get emotional support during a difficult time they are facing.
- Therapy helps you look at the problems you are facing from a different perspective. A healthier and more balanced one.
- It can help, supporting people to understand why they feel the way they do or why they make actions or choices that make them unhappy.
- Psychotherapy can help by teaching people ways to cope with their own emotions, behaviours or difficult events they encounter in life.
- Psychotherapy can support you to cope with mental health difficulties.
- Combined with medication it can be effective treatment for various mental health difficulties, benefiting the client with a psychiatric disorder.
How does a psychotherapist help?
A psychotherapist can help in many ways. A therapist can act as a guide to help the patient achieve their goals. A psychotherapist, regardless of schooling, is neutral to the problems the patient shares and is able to help clients better understand themselves.
In my opinion, the psychotherapist can help by:
- Creating the basis for a positive and helpful psychotherapist-client relationship.
- Being objective and neutral, can provide an unbiased and objective professional opinion on the problem that clients share.
- Being a guide to guide clients to understand themselves better, to know themselves better and how to overcome the problems they have.
- Being present and listening to the subtle nuances in clients’ communication, verbal and non-verbal, reflecting on and using them to progress therapy.
- Identifying, through listening, clients’ needs, defence mechanisms and emotional responses that help clients gain important insights.
- Last but not least, by applying scientifically validated techniques from the type of therapies practiced (cognitive behavioural therapy, integrative, psychoanalysis, gestalt, hypnotherapy) to guide the client to understand, heal and achieve their goals.
Does psychotherapy really work?
Yes, it certainly does. Hundreds of studies have found that people who access therapy make positive changes in their lives. According to a review by the American Psychological Association, psychotherapy is effective and produces long-term effects.
Unfortunately, however, it is under-accessed by the patient in need, being shrouded in myths about psychologists and limiting beliefs among the people.
When we talk about psychotherapy, we are first and foremost talking about people. This method was created to support us. In terms of its success in doing so, there are many elements that can affect its effectiveness. These elements concern both the client and the psychotherapist.
Neuroscience says that the success of psychotherapy also depends on the therapist’s ability to stimulate the neuroplasticity of the client’s brain to create new connections or synapses, inhibit other synapses and connect dissociated neural networks (Luis Cozolino).
The above phrase means that psychotherapy can help change the way the brain works by creating new connections and strengthening them!
How long does a psychotherapy session last?
Psychotherapy sessions vary in length depending on the client (individual adult or child, couple, family) and the psychotherapist.
How long does an individual session last?
An individual psychotherapy session can last between 45 and 60 minutes.
How long does a couple or family session last?
A couple or family psychotherapy session can last between 60 and 90 minutes.
How many sessions do I need?
It is quite difficult to estimate how many sessions each patient needs. This is because each client has their own needs and pace of work, and may sometimes need medication.
There are many variables that can affect the number of sessions, such as the severity of the problem and therapeutic goals.
How much does a psychotherapy session cost?
A psychotherapy session can cost from 150 lei to 400 lei, depending on the rate charged by each specialist.
Some psychologists collaborate with the health insurance company, but the amount covered by the price of a session is very small (up to 50 lei).
Go to the rates page to see all the prices for psychological services.
- American Psychological Association. (2011, October). Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why
- Canadian Psychology Association (CPA). (2013, September). The efficacy and effectiveness of psychological treatments