What is the key ingredient in psychotherapy?
At The Midtown Practice (TMP) we know that the “therapeutic alliance”, a great match between you and your therapist, is the foundation of your getting the most out of your individual psychotherapy. The right match of therapist and patient is essential to creating a space where you can, if need be, go deep into challenging experiences and deal with sensitive thoughts and feelings. The therapeutic relationship is not the same as a friendship, even with a friend who is a good listener. With this in mind, right from the start we pay very close attention to choosing the right clinician for you.
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is commonly referred to simply as therapy or “talk therapy”. There are actually many different types of psychotherapy, all of which are aimed at helping a person to understand and deal with distressing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, in order to lead a fuller and more rewarding life. At its core, however, all psychotherapy is based on a very personal relationship between a therapist and their patient.
Many forms of psychotherapy are evidence-based approaches to treating mental health conditions and life’s diverse challenges. “Evidence-based” means psychotherapy that is informed by the best available data and psychological research, and that integrates this with the therapist’s clinical expertise, in order to provide the most suitable therapy for each person. All therapists at TMP have training in diverse forms of evidence-based psychotherapy.
The effectiveness of psychotherapy is also very much influenced by the unique characteristics of each patient. At TMP every patient receives an individualized approach to psychotherapy based on their stage in life, personal problems, unique individual strengths and weaknesses, degree of social support, and family, social and cultural factors.
What to expect?
One on one psychotherapy is a shared endeavor based in the relationship between the patient and the psychotherapist. During your very first meeting the therapist will work with you to develop an understanding of the critical factors motivating you to come to psychotherapy. Together, you two will begin to decide on a pragmatic treatment plan to move you towards your goals. In the first session, the therapist may touch upon a broad range of topics in order to understand not only the issues bringing you to treatment, but also to learn about the broader context of your life.
As your therapy gets underway, you and your therapist will decide collaboratively what you want to work on, how and how often to work together, and what you can do between therapy sessions to maximize the benefits you receive from psychotherapy. You play an active role in setting treatment goals and in assessing how well these goals are met.
Sometimes very sensitive topics may come up. Your therapist has the professional training and skills to assist you in learning how to manage even when you are overwhelmed. The psychotherapist creates a supportive environment where you can speak freely, and confidentially, with someone who cares about and is committed to your happiness and wellbeing and can bring a wise perspective on the issues. They can provide tools and techniques to help you find more effective ways to deal with challenging situations and can also provide guidance as you work together to achieve positive change in your life. You will also learn how to process and experiment with new behaviors on your own in order to find what works best for you.
How to choose the right therapist for you?
Ask your friends or family members, you primary care physician, or other health care professionals. Online resources, such as therapist websites and trusted sites with reviews can also provide useful information and can give you a feel for the therapist’s approach and personality and whether or not this might provide a good fit for you. When you find a therapist who you think might be a good match, contact them and ask for a 15-minute phone consult or schedule your first session and see how it goes. You want to talk to the therapist and get a sense of their approach and what it feels like for you to be meeting with them. You can also ask about their training, expertise and how they have treated others with your problems like yours.
Medication, therapy or both?
Studies have proven that therapy for many psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety or depression, is just as effective as drug treatment; and that the combined treatment is more effective than either talk therapy or medication alone. In the long run, however, the effects of psychotherapy are potentially longer lasting than those of medication. Psychotherapy helps you develop new perspectives and insights and helps you build psychological skills and coping mechanisms, all of which will be valuable to you even after you have chosen to end therapy. Combined treatment, with medication and therapy both, does have the potential to offer relief and improvement more quickly. You decide whether to do therapy or medication or both. If you decide on a combined treatment, your psychotherapist and psychopharmacologist at the Midtown Practice will work closely with each other and with you to deliver the most rapidly effective treatment.
If you are considering psychotherapy, contact The Midtown Practice to schedule a free phone consultation. We want to learn more about you and your situation and what you are seeking, and you will learn about us and how we can meet your needs. Our primary goal is to find a therapist who is a great match for you, so that, with your therapist’s help, you can address your issues and start moving towards a more rewarding and meaningful life.
- Cuijpers, P. & Drapeau, M. (2017). Four Decades of Outcome Research on Psychotherapies for Adult Depression. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 58(1), 7–19. doi: 10.1037/cap0000096.
- McHugh, R. K., Whitton, S. W., Peckham, A. D., Welge, J. A., & Otto, M. W. (2013). Patient preference for psychological vs pharmacologic treatment of psychiatric disorders: a meta-analytic review. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74(6), 595–602. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.12r07757