From the outside, therapy looks little different to any other conversation between two or more people. There is however, more to therapy than meets the eye.
What is therapy?
Unlike the supportive conversations that you hopefully have with your loved ones, therapy discussions are structured by trained therapists according to principles scientifically demonstrated to be helpful. This involves far more than talking about your problems in the hope that someone will listen and offer practical solutions or reassurance. Of course, therapy can include these aspects, but therapists aim to achieve lasting growth by helping you find ways of seeing, thinking and feeling that leave you more capable and prosperous. There are many forms of psychotherapy and they differ in a variety of ways, but they also share a great deal in common. All therapists aim to provide a safe, confidential, non-judgmental, consistent, reliable and accepting encounter with a helpful human being. Therapy is designed so that you and your internal life take centre stage. You are the one who shares personal details about your life, while the therapist works to help you to understand the situation you face and to be as open as possible. This includes the therapist refraining from sharing their political, religious, moral or any other views that might make it more difficult for you to be yourself. Some forms of psychotherapy involve a meeting between one patient and one therapist, while others involve more, e.g. group or couples therapy. Sessions are usually less than one hour but it is not unusual for initial assessment sessions (or groups) to be scheduled for longer. This is because assessments sometimes require many questions to be asked, whereas subsequent sessions might be less structured.