What Is Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that helps you understand who you are, and why you feel and behave, in the ways that you do.

Therapy helps you understand your patterns of relating to others and the world around you. Talking to an objective and non-judgemental outsider, gives you an opportunity to be truly honest with yourself and to talk about issues that you may not feel comfortable sharing with friends or family. By looking at past experiences, perhaps in childhood, your therapist will help you identify emotional patterns that may have been hampering you. Looking at the past can often be helpful, as early experiences can determine how we behave and feel as adults. Early relationships with parents or carers often define the relationships we have in later life, both with others as well as with ourselves. Through therapy, you will become more conscious of your patterns of behaviour and emotional functioning. This greater self-awareness and wellbeing will help you to make healthier choices for yourself.

Coming to therapy for the first time, and revealing your thoughts and feelings to a stranger, is not always easy, but the trained psychotherapist provides a confidential, non-judgemental and empathetic environment where trust can build and therapeutic exploration can commence.

During psychotherapy, defences will be challenged and underlying anxieties uncovered, that can reveal true and intensely experienced feelings. Making connections between these defences and true feelings can develop new ‘self-awareness’, and a capacity to understand differences in others and in the world in which you live, so that you can begin to bear what might otherwise have felt unbearable.

How does psychotherapy work?

Psychotherapy works in part, because it offers the individual a safe, confidential environment from which to explore difficult feelings. The ‘therapeutic structure,’ or ‘frame,’ is made up of a few components that help the individual feel safe and able to explore difficult issues.

  • Your therapist – who remains with you throughout your journey in psychotherapy
  • A time frame – each psychotherapy session is 50 minutes in length
  • Psychotherapy sessions are weekly – ideally at the same time and on the same day each week

The structure of the therapy session will help you feel at ease, build trust with your therapist and give you a safe place to explore your difficult thoughts and feelings

Psychotherapy or Counselling?

‘Psychotherapy’ and ‘Counselling’ are terms that are often used interchangeably. Some practitioners may choose to use both terms when referring to themselves. Although they are very similar (both practices share the goal of relieving psychological symptoms and enabling individuals to live more fulfilled lives), there are some subtle differences.

‘Counselling’ is generally used to denote a briefer process than psychotherapy and is mostly focused upon behaviour patterns and often targets a particular symptom or problematic situation.

‘Psychotherapy’ is generally a longer- term treatment which focuses more on gaining insight into the underlying causes of emotional problems. Its focus is on the patient’s thought processes and ways of being in the world rather than specific problems.

Generally speaking, psychotherapy requires more skill from the practitioner than counselling. Psychotherapy training requires a longer, more rigorous academic and clinical focus than counselling training. Whilst a psychotherapist is qualified to provide counselling, a counsellor may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy.

In actual practice there may be quite a bit of overlap between psychotherapy and counselling

How Can Psychotherapy and Counselling Help You?

Psychotherapy and counselling can help you gain understanding of overwhelming feelings and destructive behaviours. In gaining an understanding of feelings and behaviours, psychotherapy can help you take control of your difficulties and make healthy changes.

Psychotherapy can help decrease your stress levels. By sharing thoughts, fears and anxieties with an experienced, professional psychotherapist you will gain relief, clarity, reduced stress and be able to find a healthier way forward.

Psychotherapy can help you build healthier relationships. Through the examination of relationship patterns, you will gain a better understanding of how your relationships work. In examining repeated patterns in relationships, expectations of others and of yourself for example, psychotherapy and counselling will help you discover how the difficulties arise and help you move forward into healthier patterns of relating.

Psychotherapy can help build your self-esteem and confidence. By sharing your difficult feelings with a psychotherapist/counsellor you will be listened to and understood. From this understanding, your psychotherapist will help you build your self-value, encouraging you to see yourself and value yourself in different, and healthier, ways.

And psychotherapy and counselling can help you eliminate self-destructive patterns of behaviour and patterns of thinking. By examining the root cause of the destructive patterns, with your psychotherapist or counsellor, you will gain an understanding of why you are behaving destructively and, together with your therapist, find a healthier way forward.

Why not take the first step to greater emotional health and contact us at Cavendish Psychotherapy.