Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider.

During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy helps you learn how to take control of your life and respond to challenging situations with healthy coping skills.

There are many specific types of psychotherapy, each with its own approach. The type of psychotherapy that's right for you depends on your individual situation. Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy, counseling, psychosocial therapy or, simply, therapy.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Psychotherapy can be helpful in treating most mental health problems, including:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Addictions, such as alcoholism, drug dependence or compulsive gambling
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia or other disorders that cause detachment from reality (psychotic disorders)

Not everyone who benefits from psychotherapy is diagnosed with a mental illness. Psychotherapy can help with a number of life's stresses and conflicts that can affect anyone. For example, it may help you:

  • Resolve conflicts with your partner or someone else in your life
  • Relieve anxiety or stress due to work or other situations
  • Cope with major life changes, such as divorce, the death of a loved one or the loss of a job
  • Learn to manage unhealthy reactions, such as road rage or passive-aggressive behavior
  • Come to terms with an ongoing or serious physical health problem, such as diabetes, cancer or ongoing (chronic) pain
  • Recover from physical or sexual abuse or witnessing violence
  • Cope with sexual problems, whether they're due to a physical or psychological cause
  • Sleep better, if you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)

In some cases, psychotherapy can be as effective as medications, such as antidepressants. However, depending on your specific situation, psychotherapy alone may not be enough to ease the symptoms of a mental health condition. You may also need medications or other treatments.

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