Data indicate that over one-quarter of adults in the United States struggle with some type of mental health disorder every year. That could be anxiety, depression, or one of the many other common mental health issues that affect people. The prevalence of mental health disorders is thankfully matched by the availability of treatment. One of the foundational methods of treating mental health disorders is psychotherapy. Even people without a diagnosed mental health condition may seek short- or long-term bouts of psychotherapy to aid in dealing with the loss of a loved one, job loss, relationship issues, or stress.
What Is the Goal of Psychotherapy?
Most people understand psychotherapy as a means of treating mental illness. What may be less obvious is an answer to this question: “What is the goal of psychotherapy?” It can be summed up as facilitating positive change in a client’s life.
But that definition is incredibly generic and broad. It lacks specificity for a reason. That reason is that the goal of psychotherapy is naturally different from client to client. Therapy sessions are customized to an individual’s needs. A few examples of possible goals during psychotherapy include the following:
- Acquiring social or interpersonal skills
- Managing stress in positive ways
- Improving emotional regulation
- Achieving personal growth or introspection
- Processing grief or trauma
The list of possible psychotherapy goals is practically as long as the list of human concerns. No matter what issues or problems a person brings to psychotherapy, by the end of it, they will hopefully feel as if they have made progress and are better able to function socially and emotionally.
How Psychotherapy Works
Understanding the goal of psychotherapy is a great starting point. But that doesn’t really say anything about how psychotherapy works. During a course of psychotherapy, a licensed mental health professional will use evidence-based approaches to help clients achieve their goals. The inner workings of psychotherapy are perhaps best understood by mentioning a few common evidence-based techniques.
One of the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of treatment focuses on identifying the thoughts and behaviors that underlie someone’s current mental health status. Once those are pinpointed, CBT guides clients through modifying those thoughts and behaviors in ways that promote better mental health.
For instance, maybe a damaging self-belief continues to keep someone stuck in a cycle of grief and mourning over something that happened a long time ago. CBT would identify that negative self-belief and help someone modify that perception of themselves to allow healing and processing to occur.
Overall, it is helpful to remember that psychotherapy is grounded in dialogue between a therapist and a client. The relationship is and must be collaborative to produce positive outcomes.
Should I Consider Psychotherapy Near Me?
The choice to access psychotherapy is a hugely personal one. Remember that seeking help for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. If you receive a physical injury or get sick, it’s natural to visit a primary care doctor. So too, when your mental health is suffering or has been damaged. It is only natural to seek professional help.
Some reasons to consider seeking psychotherapy include: experiencing a prolonged bout of depression, anxiety, or sadness; dealing with a chronic illness, family death, or divorce; or struggling through a major life change. You also don’t need to have had something major occur in your life in order to feel like you need psychotherapy. Sometimes, we just need a mental health tune-up. Psychotherapy can benefit anyone from any background.