What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a process in which the patient and psychotherapist collaborate to facilitate the well-being of the patient and increase his life quality. The client and psychotherapist agree on the objectives, duration and frequency of therapy sessions, according to patient’s needs.

Psychotherapy (psychological therapy or talk therapy) contains the combination of two words: psyche and therapy. Psyche means mind, spirit, soul, and therapy means healing. Therefore psychotherapy means “healing the mind”. Psychotherapy is a method of treatment for mental health disorders. The mental health specialist (the psychotherapist) applies scientifically validated procedures to help the client achieve inner emotional balance, a state of health, healthier coping strategies and more effective daily habits.

Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy and it allows you to talk openly about things that are important for you. It provides a safe and supportive environment where you can work, together with the therapist, toward a healthier and happier life.

Integrative therapy is recommended in a wide range of disorders or problems such as anxiety, depression, behavioral and relational problems that negatively impact the normal course of daily life.

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Recommended read: Psychotherapy in English for expats living in Bucharest →

What is a psychologist, psychotherapist and psychiatrist and how are they different in Romania?

There are many differences between a psychologist, a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist in Romania. In short, the psychologist graduated Psychology Faculty, the psychotherapist graduated a psychotherapy training and can see clients for treatment, the psychiatrist is a doctor who prescribes medical treatment for mental disorders.

The psychologist is a person who graduated the Faculty of Psychology and is accredited by the Romanian Board of Psychologists. Only graduating the Faculty of Psychology and not getting the required accreditation from the Romanian Board of Psychologists does not give the right to graduates to call themselves psychologists. An example for this is that no graduate of the Law studies is called a lawyer. They need to go through a process of recognition and registration as a lawyer in order to practice this profession. It is the same for psychologists.

A psychologist can not perform mental health interventions. To do this he needs to study psychotherapy. A psychologist can only follow other training or specializations to practice in the field of psychology (HR, research, clinical testing and diagnosis) or psychotherapy.

The psychotherapist is a trained mental health specialist. He is the accredited psychologist who followed and successfully finished a psychotherapy training provided by a psychotherapy school or a masters programme in psychotherapy.

To be able to practice psychotherapy treatment in the therapy office, he is given a certificate by the Romanian Board of Psychologists ensuring the right of private practice. If the psychotherapist does not have this certificate, then he cannot practice legally in Romania. The psychotherapist uses special techniques to help clients improve their mental, emotional and behavioral health. Make sure that the therapist you want to work with has all the necessary accreditation and certificates issued by the Romanian Board of Psychologists or other accrediting associations.

The psychotherapist does not make a medical diagnosis and does not prescribe medication. The specialist who does this is the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist is a mental health specialist who studied medical school. He is able to evaluate and diagnose the mental health disorders in his patients. He prescribes medicines as a treatment of mental health disorders. The psychiatrist can also be a psychotherapist if he studies psychotherapy. If necessary he collaborates with the psychotherapist for the best interest of the patient.

How do I know if I need psychotherapy?

You may seek psychotherapy when you go through a critical moment in your life, or when somebody may encourage you to. I hear from people who come to see me that they didn’t know what else to do to overcome a difficulty they were facing.

You need psychotherapy if there is something, be it internal (thoughts, emotions, mental health disorders) or external (difficult or traumatic events) that interferes with your daily life in a negative way. There are also other ways to know if you need psychotherapy. Pay close attention to the following and how they interfere with your daily life:

  • You feel you don’t function optimally in your life. Your productivity dropped, you lack self care.
  • All you tried so far to improve your emotional health had no result.
  • You seek substance use because you think this makes problems go away.
  • You’ve suffered a trauma or you’ve been through a traumatic event you don’t know how to overcome.
  • You aren’t able to keep healthy boundaries.
  • Your find it difficult to say no.
  • Your friends and family tell you that you’d benefit from seeing a psychotherapist.

Who needs psychotherapy?

It is not difficult to say what kinds of people seek psychotherapy. Anyone can need psychotherapy, basically. Without discrimination or barrier. More often people who need psychotherapy are people who encounter difficulties and need to overcome them with the help of a mental health specialist.

As a psychotherapist I don’t judge people based on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, political ideology, gender, social status, job, or culture. Psychotherapy wasn’t created with a type of person in mind. It was created to help human beings.

Therefore, who needs psychotherapy? People who:

  • Struggle with mental health disorders.
  • Don’t have a mental health disorder but need emotional support.
  • Have a difficult period in their life.
  • Feel negative emotions almost all the time.
  • Have low self regard.
  • Criticize themselves.
  • Want to overcome self sabotage.
  • Want to develop themselves.
  • Want to know themselves better.

What problems can I talk about during psychotherapy?

The problems you can talk about in psychotherapy are very varied, depending on the difficulty you may want to overcome. You would not want to waste time you pay for, to talk about unimportant topics. Some people may do this to avoid confronting their problems.

Here are some ideas of what issues you can talk about in therapy:

  • Anxiety and other anxiety related disorders: generalized anxiety, 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, postpartum depression.
  • Trauma and traumatic life incidents: post-traumatic stress disorder, rape and being victim or attack, theft, mobbing, having suffered accidents (car, injuries).
  • Emotional, compulsive eating and eating disorders: binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, obesity, bariatric surgery.
  • Negative body image, negative self image.
  • Low self-esteem, low self confidence, a feeling of being worthless.
  • Workplace difficulties: work stress, relationship problems with coworkers, work-life imbalances, burnout, feeling overwhelmed
  • Family or couple relationship issues: breakup, divorce, repeatedly choosing the wrong partners, affairs, jealousy, major life events such as birth of a child, marital problems, arguments or repeating fights, wedding stress, loneliness
  • Addiction and substance abuse: alcohol, drugs, gambling, gaming, workaholism, compulsive shopping, phone or screen addiction, social media addiction (Facebook, Instagram, tiktok and other)
  • Grief, bereavement, loss.
  • Anything that bothers you or makes you sad, unhappy.
  • Anything that interferes with your ability to live a happy and balanced life.

How does psychotherapy help?

Psychotherapy helps depending on the objectives one has. As an example, a client wants to overcome anxiety. Psychotherapy can help by supporting the client to understand what are the triggers, how thoughts and behaviors generate anxiety, balance thinking and get the tools to manage anxiety.

In short, here is how psychotherapy can help:

  • It It helps people get emotional support during a difficult period of time.
  • Psychotherapy helps people look at the problems they face from a different perspective. A more healthy and balanced one.
  • It can help by enabling people to understand why they feel the way they feel, or why they do things that makes them unhappy.
  • Psychotherapy can also help by teaching people ways to cope with their own emotions, behaviors, or difficult events they encounter in life.
  • Psychotherapy helps people cope with their mental health difficulties.
  • Combined with medication can be an effective approach to some mental health disorders.

How does a psychotherapist help?

A psychotherapist can help in many ways. He can act as a guide to help clients achieve their goals. A psychotherapist, regardless of the training, is non-judgemental and neutral to the problems the client shares and is able to help the clients understand themselves better.

In my opinion, psychotherapist can help by:

  • Creating the base for a successful and useful therapist-client relationship.
  • Being non-judgemental and neutral and can offer non-biased and objective professional opinion on the problem the clients share.
  • Being a guide to help the clients understand themselves better, know themselves better, and why they encounter the problems they have.
  • Being present and listening to the subtle nuances from the clients’ speech, verbal and nonverbal, reflect it back and use it for the progress of the therapy.
  • Identifying, by listening, the needs of the clients, the defense mechanisms and the emotional responses, that help the clients get important insights.
  • Last but not least, apply the scientifically validated techniques to help the client gain insight, healing, and reach his objectives.

Does psychotherapy really work?

Yes, it definitely does. Hundreds of studies found that psychotherapy helps people make positive changes in their lives. According to an analysis made by the American Psychological Association, psychotherapy is efficient and produces effects on long term. However, unfortunately, it is insufficiently used by people.

When we talk about psychotherapy, we talk firstly about people. This treatment method was birthed to help us. And regarding its success in doing so, there are many elements that can impact its efficiency. These elements are related to both the patient and the psychotherapist.

Neuroscience says that therapy’s success depends also on the ability of the therapist 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 sentence above means that psychotherapy can help change the way the brain works, through making new connections and making them stronger!

How long is one psychotherapy session?

Psychotherapy sessions have a different duration depending on the client (individual adult or child, couple, family) and the psychotherapist. One individual psychotherapy session can last between 45 minutes to 60 minutes. One couple or family psychotherapy session can last between 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

How many psychotherapy sessions do I need?

It is quite difficult to estimate the number of sessions each person needs. This happens because each client has his own needs and rhythm of work. There are many variables that can impact the number of sessions, such as the severity of the problem and the therapeutic goals.

How much does one psychotherapy session cost?

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