True Therapy- An Intro

Firstly the word. Psychotherapy is made up of two words psyche and therapy. Psyche means ‘the mind’ or ‘soul’ and therapy means ‘healing’. So psychotherapy is about healing the mind or soul. My quick and easy definition of what the soul or mind is: our thoughts and feelings. This can also involve our physical body (especially our muscles) and the habits we have developed. And because we are social being all these parts of ourselves are involved in our relationships.Learn more about us at True Therapy

Psychotherapy can be divided into two parts. The first is psychiatry. This is practised by medical doctors which means that drugs can be prescribed. All the drug treatments (for depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and so on) are psychiatry. Most Freudian therapy is also practised by medical doctors. The second part is counseling, sometimes called psychotherapy. This is most often about talking. And also, especially with the styles developed since the 1950’s, tends to emphasise the relationship between the client and the therapist.

There are literally hundreds of styles of psychotherapy or counselling. Broadly speaking they can be put into four large groupings: those which emphasise our thoughts, those which emphasise our feelings, those which emphasise our relationships and those which emphasise our physicality.

The classic therapy among those which emphasise our thinking is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This believes that thinking means intellectual processing and that the way we think affects our feelings and behaviour. The therapy is therefore to change our thoughts and so become happier and/or more productive.

Probably the most pure type of the therapies centred on our feelings is Carl Roger’s Client Centred Therapy. Rogers was incredibly good at listening – to hearing the emotion in what the other was saying and responding to them. It may sound simple – a few minutes trying to do this will show you otherwise. The therapy is to listen to the feelings of others and yourself.

There are a great number of therapies that focus on our relationships. These can be quite personal and emphasise the influence people in the past have had on us (usually our parents are very important) but need not. They can instead the way that you are relating to one or more people in your life at the moment and examine what changes to your style of relating would lead to greater satisfaction for you. This comes close to social psychotherapy and group functioning. The therapy is changing the way that we relate in order to have more satisfying relationships. A particularly accessible and valuable type of this therapy is Transactional Analysis.

Finally there are the therapies that emphasise our physicality – especially the muscles under our voluntary control. Most of these psychotherapies trace their origin eventually to Wilhelm Reich. Reich was a follower of Freud who broke the rules and touched the client – usually to help them pay attention to their breathing. These therapies usually bring awareness to how our habitual thoughts and feelings shape our bodies. The therapy is to free our muscles and our thoughts and feelings from limiting habits and recover the sense of liveliness that is our birthright. These kinds of therapies are often called ‘bodywork’. Probably the two best known kinds are Rolfing (a kind of massage) and Bio-energetics (invented by Alexander Lowen which uses movements and postures as well as talking).

Whatever kind of person you are there is a kind of psychotherapy that should fit you. So how to choose? The research that has been done suggests that what is important is that the type of therapy isn’t so important. What helps bring change is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Which means: it is best to choose a psychotherapist not a style of psychotherapy.

Which of the above is my favourite? The answer is none of them. My favourite is gestalt psychotherapy, because when practised well, it incorporates all of the elements listed above – thoughts, feelings, relationships and our physicality. This integration I find deeply satisfying.

Whatever kind of person you are there is a kind of psychotherapy that should fit you. So how to choose? The research that has been done suggests that what is important is that the type of therapy isn’t so important. What helps bring change is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Which means: it is best to choose a psychotherapist not a style of psychotherapy.