There are many ways to define psychotherapy. For example: “treatment modality for psychic, psychosomatic or organic disorders, in which the health professional has the objective of modifying thoughts, feelings and behaviors in the patient, in order to improve his relationship with himself and his environment”. The treatment method is developed through the therapist/patient relationship; using words and/or action.
Through psychotherapy it is possible to treat most of the psychological disorders that appear in current classifications, either as a single treatment (adaptive disorders, some personality disorders, etc.) or together with pharmacological treatment (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.).
Types of psychotherapy
- Implicit psychotherapy: it consists in supporting the patient, whether he/she suffers from a somatic or psychological condition. It is carried out by all health professionals during their care work.
- Explicit or regulated psychotherapy: This is programmed to treat mental disorders and can only be carried out by certain health professionals: psychiatrists, other physicians with specific accredited training, psychologists (clinical and general health), specialized nurses, etc.
Difference between psychotherapist and coach
Coaching refers to training in certain skills (e.g. running a business group, giving conferences or public speaking, etc.) and is applied to the general population, without any therapeutic purpose of a healthcare type. When the attainment of skills is hindered by a psychological disorder, the psychotherapist must intervene.
What should be expected from the psychotherapist?
Although the psychotherapist should know the basic fundamentals of all psychotherapies, learning these is so complex and extensive that it is only possible to be an expert in some modalities. It is important to keep in mind that each type of psychotherapy is indicated for certain psychic illnesses, and may even be contraindicated in others.
Results of psychotherapy
All psychotherapy techniques that have demonstrated at least clinical effectiveness (improvement of a significant number of patients over time) are applicable. If they also had scientific evidence (being supported by rigorous experimental studies), the usefulness would be even greater. At present, psychotherapies with evidence do not yet cover all mental disorders.
The results of the treatment depend on whether the technique applied is indicated: although in some cases it may take effect from the beginning, in most cases an average of 3 months is required for the onset of significant improvement. The duration depends on the severity of the disorder in question and the modality of psychotherapy.