Psychotherapy is often helpful to people who are in emotional distress or to those who wish to enrich functioning in everyday life. Goals can include a greater understanding of your personality and style of interpersonal relating, and achieving a greater sense of personal freedom through learning to cope with psychological symptoms rather than feeling controlled by them. Patients can also work to achieve an enhanced sense of identity, improved self-esteem, greater pleasure in love and work, and an increased capacity to experience and tolerate both pleasure and pain. Or, in a nutshell: gaining the meaningful life you desperately want to have!
Factors that may increase the helpfulness of therapy include a willingness to be honest with yourself and with your therapist, a strong desire and motivation to improve your life, and individual effort in the therapeutic process. To achieve this, therapy is usually conducted weekly; however, your provider will recommend the frequency of therapy that is appropriate to you and your circumstances.
Psychotherapy can be a phenomenal opportunity to grow and gain a better understanding of the self, but can also include some challenges. These challenges may include recollection of unpleasant events that can arouse intense emotions of fear and anger. Feelings of discomfort, anxiety, sadness, frustration, loneliness, or helplessness may also be experienced. These feelings usually decrease during the course of treatment as well. Persons with a significant other, such as a spouse, may also experience increased conflict and tension in that relationship as personal growth entails new ways of relating to others. As a result, adjustments in one’s personal relationships are often required. While these adjustments can be difficult and painful, many people find the interpersonal rewards of change to be well worth the effort.
As physical conditions can contribute to (or be the cause of) psychological symptoms, your provider may recommend a physical evaluation with a medical doctor. A referral to a psychiatrist for psychotropic medication may also be appropriate. In some cases, psychological testing may be recommended, as information gathered from this process can enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy.