What is Psychotherapy?

There are hundreds of methods used to achieve the goals of psychotherapy.
These methods are based on observation, research and theories that explain,
predict or influence a change in our behavior. There are only a few underlying
principles in psychotherapy.

New awareness and insight changes our experience, response tendencies and
choices.

Practicing new behaviors will change other behaviors.

New experiences can motivate us to take action, change and grow.

Adults, and especially children, tend to adopt behaviors of the people they bond
with.

Advice, directions and techniques are not nearly as important as the
therapeutic relation ship and the resources that the person brings into therapy.

Hope, the desire to change and the expectation that change will happen are
essential but not that powerful alone.

Problems That Respond Well to Psychotherapy

Escape and Avoidance. Most of the problems faced in psychotherapy are the
result of an unpleasant experience that causes people to change their behavior
in order to escape or avoid that experience or the memory of that experience.
The changes that occur in our behavior over time can be limiting and cause
problems. Living to avoid and escape is not the same as living, loving and
learning.
Problem Behavior That Has a “Payoff”. While most behavioral problems are
unpleasant or ineffective, they may have a payoff (or benefit). The person may
not recognize the payoff and they may honestly deny there is a payoff. Payoffs
might include attention, extra care, emotional support or avoidance of
something unpleasant. The payoff may not be noticeable or easily understood
by family, friends and others.
Lack of Awareness or Insight. Many problems are the result of an ability to
recognize the patterns, choices and the consequences of our behavior. In
order to solve a problem, it must be understood in a way that creates a solution
or allows us to change our behavior. We cannot make a choice unless we
understand that there is a choice, when there is a choice and what choice to
make.
Misunderstanding Human Differences. Many people do not recognize or fully
appreciate the differences that exist between men and women as well as
individuals and groups of individuals. These differences can lead to the wrong
assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Decisions and actions that are then
taken based on these false assumptions and unrealistic expectation can cause
problems. Learning to understand, respect and respond appropriately in the
case of human differences is a principle solution to human suffering.
Errors in Thinking. What we experience and the conclusions we make, can
affect our choices, our behavior and how we respond in the future. Careful
examination and correction of the way in which we think and the conclusion we
make can be helpful. There are many actions that we take that are based on
beliefs, assumption and thought processes that we have not examined and do
not recognize.
Failure to Express our Identity or Potential. We are each born with a potential
waiting to unfold, be experienced and to be expressed. The inability to
recognize and express our potential can cause problems and especially
symptoms of depression. We each have an intuitive recognition of when we are
or are not

using our abilities and potential. This applies to all aspect of our
potential behavior. For example, most of us recognize that some children love
to run, talk, create or explore the world. They have preferences and gifts.
Problems surface when our deepest potentials are ignored, go unrecognized or
are suppressed.

(copyright 2002 to 2008, Michael G. Conner;
http://www.crisiscounseling.com/Articles/WhatIsPsychotherapy.htm)

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