WHAT IS PSYCHOTHERAPY?                                                 To Home Page


Psychotherapy is a process aimed at helping you gain more control of your emotions through increased awareness, action, acknowledgment and acceptance of them and self-observation within the therapy relationship. It is a relationship in which a specially trained professional tries to help you overcome emotional pain and interpersonal problems. A variety of techniques are used based on your needs.  

One major accomplishment in therapy is the expansion of the patient's capacity to contain pain, to postpone gratification--to suffer, yet to suffer without despair and without resorting to the multitude of defensive maneuvers.  The successful therapeutic patient may experience greater degrees of suffering (in life) but more effectively tolerates it.  Far from being merely a consolation, this is properly viewed on the contrary as a major value of reduced alienation and growth of the real self.



It depends on the type of problems you are experiencing. A person with long standing difficulties which affect all areas of his or her life will need to be in therapy longer than someone with minor, situational problems. Time is needed to allow you to establish trust and to develop a working relationship. Psychotherapy may range from less than one year to three years.



You are expected to attend your sessions regularly and to work to express as many thoughts and feelings as possible - both about day to day issues and about the therapy relationship itself. Also, you may be given reading material or be asked to complete some writing assignments between sessions to further help you resolve the issues and problems you have presented.



Absolutely. We do not discuss you or reveal any details about your therapy with anyone without your written permission. This includes other members in your family. The exception to this would be if you intend to harm yourself or someone else, which includes physical abuse and/or sexual abuse of children since we are required by law to take action and make a report to the appropriate agencies.



Psychotherapy for children is based on the same principles as adult therapy (awareness, education, acknowledgment, acceptance) but the techniques are different. Play is the natural language of children, not verbal expression. To help children express their feelings, the use of specialized toys, games, drawings and other "play" methods helps children resolve problems. The techniques used are matched to the specific needs and problems of the child, and requires specialized training and teaching for the therapist. The time required for psychotherapy may be the same with children and adults.


Absolutely. The therapist will probably want to meet with you on a regular basis to consult about changes as well as to find out how your child is managing both at home and at school. The therapist may need to meet with or talk with teachers or the pediatrician, but only with your written permission. As the parent, it is important to support your child's work with the therapist making sure that appointments are kept; offering encouragement as needed. To maintain trust, which is central to the therapy, we request that parents respect the confidentiality of their child's sessions and not press him/her for details of what is or is not talked about in the sessions. We give parents a list of helpful hints at the beginning of the child's therapy which will enhance the child's healing.


Children deserve the same respect as adults about their therapy. It is important that we work together to help your child solve problems and to develop a positive self image. We will not tell you the specific content of your child's discussions either directly or through play unless there is some threat of self harm or harm to others. Immediate steps will be taken to protect the child's physical and emotional well-being.



Often, couples benefit more from therapy together when they are experiencing conflicts. You can work together to make your relationship more open, to heal old wounds and to enhance your communication. Our job is to help you to find the way to develop a more healthy style of communicating and to develop a better way to resolve your conflicts together. We will give you specific assignments either writing or "thinking" tasks which will help you to develop new skills with each other.



Whenever a member of a family begins to change, the whole family is affected. We might suggest a session or sessions with the whole family as a group, to help the family communicate better, heal old wounds and move toward a more compatible living arrangement.



Group therapy can be especially helpful when the difficulties that you are experiencing are interpersonal, rather than intrapsychic. Group therapy can assist in the therapy process either in addition to individual sessions or by itself. Groups are working, therapeutic relationships, not social ones. The work is as hard as in individual therapy, but the benefits can be as great, or greater


What is the difference between Counseling and Therapy?

There is a considerable overlap in as much as both counseling and psychotherapy is about overcoming personal difficulties and facilitating change.  The methods used are similar and in some instances identical.  The differences relate more to the goals and interests and to the setting in which either professional works.  Both will decide whether or not they should seek further medical and psychiatric advice and will normally make referrals to appropriate specialists whilst also making consultations with the client's GP. (Counseling & Psychotherapy Resources Directory 1995)

It is often considered that psychotherapy is more directive and looks to the past and the historical influences for the answers to 'here and now issues'.  The counselor however may be seen to work more with crisis intervention.  However the distinction between counseling and psychotherapy is not a matter that need concern those who seek help.  It is not necessarily the case that those who seek counseling/ psychotherapy are presenting in a crisis situation, many come in order to improve aspects of themselves and their lives, to understand how they relate to others and to improve the quality of life.

Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers (Oh My!)

Author: Faith Hamby
Published on: October 13, 2000

The first time I walked into the small beige waiting room of my therapist, I realized two things: I forgot my checkbook, and I knew nothing about my therapist except that my insurance's referral service assured me she had a PhD. I flubbed my way through what seemed like endless paperwork and in fifty minutes I laid my soul bare to an utter stranger in a shield-back chair.

As I walked out the door, revved high on first impressions and long withheld emotions, my soon-to-be therapist tucked a brochure into my hand. I think I may have glanced at it, but I never really saw it. After fifty minutes "on the couch," I knew almost nothing about my therapist except that she seemed kind around the eyes, where it matters, and that when I talked, she looked as if she believed me.

I lucked out.

But if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't trust to luck.

When looking for a therapist, you will want to know what certification or licensing that therapist has. Are they are a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a social worker? It's also helpful to know what that means. You wouldn't buy a car without knowing the difference between an SUV, a sedan or a coupe, right? So, consider this your psychological Consumer Reports.

Mental Health Professionals
The main difference behind the titles of mental health care professionals center on the degrees they carry and what those degrees are in. The most commonly confused professionals are psychiatrists and psychologists.

These are the medical doctors, licensed to practice medicine. Not only can they provide psychotherapy, but they can also prescribe medication. They are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication. They are, however, very much doctors and they train like regular physicians.

Psychologists, on the other hand, are not medical doctors, but they carry a university PhD in a psychological discipline and take an examination to become licensed. Of all the mental health care professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists have the most training when it comes to hands-on treatment of mental disorders.

Social Workers
A social worker differs from a psychiatrist or a psychologist in that they carry a degree--either a Masters or a PhD--in social work. They also must be licensed. Social workers can work for their clients within government and state offices or systems.

Licensed counselors tend to focus on current relationships and career issues. Though counseling and therapy are often used interchangeably, counseling is usually thought of as being short in duration while psychotherapy is usually longer and deals with deeper, more serious issues that might be affecting a client's life.

Unfortunately, these are not hard and fast definitions. The lines between counselor and therapist often blur and the titles are used interchangeably within the profession as well as without.

Plus, there are divisions within divisions. For example, a psychologist is not just a psychologist. They can be a clinical psychologist or a counseling psychologist. The above set of definitions is merely a place to start. But it's good to have some general knowledge about the diverse mental health professionals available to you.

Beyond the definitions and the jargon, there are a few common sensible rules to remember when looking for a therapist:

bulletLook for someone highly recommended--by your primary care physician, family, friends or co-workers.


bulletKnow if they are licensed, and what degree they hold.


bulletTrust yourself. If your therapist does not seem to have your best interest at heart, find another therapist.

Because while you should know and understand your therapist's credentials, there is more to a relationship between patient and therapist than a PhD, or a Masters, or a license. There has to be a connection, trust. And trust must be earned.

How did I know, beyond the credentials and the titles, my therapist was for me?

The moment I told her that I forgot my checkbook, and she said, "That's okay. You'll pay me later," and ushered me into her office as if I, and not the money, mattered.



Psychobabble: Types of Psychotherapy                

Author: Faith Hamby
Published on: October 27, 2000


It is not easy to get started in therapy.  To begin with, there is the uncertainty about how to go about doing it.  How to pick a therapist, what do you say when you go to one, and what do you have to do once you're in therapy?  If you are thinking of therapy for yourself or someone you know, you probably feel anxious about starting off on a new experience in which a lot is at stake and the outcome is uncertain.  You are not sure what is going to happen to you and how you are going to take to it.  You might be worried about what other people are going to think of you.  On top of all this, you have to overcome a certain amount of fear.  Getting started means putting in some time and effort, it means planning and making a commitment.

A theory, in psychotherapy, is a little like looking through a camera with several different lenses. Depending on what lens you use, an image might be seen up close or from a wide angle. The image might be crisper or more diffuse. Most therapists choose one theory as the primary lens or point of view through which they view therapy and their patients.

The most common, and most popular theories a consumer will run into when trying to find a therapist are discussed below:

This is the daddy of them all. Remember those Psych 101 lectures from college about Freud? This is his baby. According to this therapy, our parents and our relationships with them are responsible for most of our troubles, albeit on an unconscious level. In psychodynamic therapy, the patient usually does a great deal of talking, known as psychoanalysis, while the therapist tries to help the patient become aware of connections between their relationship with their parents and their actions or motivations. Because this therapy assumes that people's motivations are basically unknown to them, or locked away in their unconscious, the therapist serves as a sort of psychological interpreter for the patient.

One of the most popular and common therapies, Cognitive-behavioral has been tested and proven effectual for conditions such as depression. This therapy is a little more broad-based than psychodynamic. While it still believes most of our problems stem for childhood, it focuses on childhood socialization whether it be with parents or other significant people in our early lives. By socialization, the theory basically means that we mimic and adopt behaviors and ways of thinking from prominent people in our lives. Unfortunately, we pick up good and bad, or irrational, behaviors. This therapy concerns itself with those irrational behaviors or negative spirals of thought learned from others. Here, the therapist helps the patient recognize irrational thoughts or actions, understand why they are irrational or negative and offers positive, alternative patterns of thought or behavior for the patient to practice.

This theory's a little like Jimmy Buffet's chorus in Margaritaville. You can say that there's someone else to blame for all your life problems, but really, you know it's your own damn fault. In humanistic theory, the patient is an individual, responsible for their own choices in life, regardless of their upbringing, their parenting, or their socialization. This theory promotes individualism, the person as a whole, and deals with some of the greater mysteries of life, such as, "Why are we here?" Humanistic therapy is more philosophical in nature than other theories, and the therapist acts as a guide through the patient's discovery of self and their role in the world around them.

Though most therapists will claim to be in one camp or the other--psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral--most do not strictly or rigidly adhere to any one theory. This seems to be a growing trend. My own therapist describes herself as cognitive-based, but in my sessions, she's not only given me cognitive-behavioral exercises to work on my negative thinking, she's also stood back and taken a broader, humanistic view of what I need as an individual and a person. We also spent a chunk of sessions unraveling my relationships with my parents--a more psychoanalytical exercise, which helped me put those relationships into a new perspective. This combination of techniques defines eclecticism. Depending on the problem presented by the patient, a therapist may use one or more theories of psychotherapy to help the patient solve their dilemma. Eclecticism is not a mixed bag approach. Instead, it's a therapist's attempt to avail themselves of the beneficial practices of other theories in a way that best helps their patient.

When seeking out a therapist, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of what theory of psychotherapy they practice. Someone who's heart begins to race every time they visit their mother and cringes at the thought of some small criticism from their parents, even when their parents are not present, may wish to choose a psychodynamic therapist who can help them see how their relationship with their parents may be causing them to second guess themselves. They may not be concerned with the larger, philosophical issues of their responsibility for their own anxiety that a humanistic therapist might choose to focus on.

But whatever theory your therapist subscribes to, the most important thing to remember is that your therapist is there to work for you, to help you, regardless of method. Make sure whatever your therapist does or proposes is in your best interest. Therapists are not like first loves. You can always find another.



Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy


Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a process which helps clients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships, both past and present. It is a form of psychotherapy which aims to help people with serious psychological disorders to understand and change complex, deep-seated and often unconsciously based emotional and relationship problems thereby reducing symptoms and alleviating distress.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an effective treatment for a range of psychological disturbances. It is a process which seeks understanding and meaning in symptoms, behavior patterns, and psychological disorders. It is not limited only to those with mental health problems. Many people who experience a loss of meaning in their lives or who are seeking a greater sense of fulfillment may be helped by psychoanalytic psychotherapy.


What is TA?

In Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy, we at the Institute use a whole range of techniques which are incorporated into the therapy and adapted to suit each individual whatever the presenting problem.  TA is a theory developed by Eric Berne in 1956, about the structure of personality.  His theory was based on definite behavioral observations about the individual and the way they related to each other.  His book, TA in Psychotherapy (1961), describes what he believed, and demonstrated that whatever happens to the individual is recorded in the brain.  This includes everything the person experiences in childhood, all that is incorporated from parent figures, perceptions and events, the feelings associated with these events and the distortions in one's memory.  All this is stored as though on a computer disc.  These memories can be replayed and the events recalled and re-experienced in response to something that is happening to the individual in the present day, thus influencing us in the way we relate to each other and to events that occur in our lives.  The terms Parent, Adult and Child ego state denote states of mind and their related patterns of behavior as they occur.  

Transactional Analysis can be defined as many things, first and foremost it is a philosophy that begins with the belief that each of us is fundamentally OK whilst also expressing a point of view and a description of people which gives us an understanding to the structure of personality.

Woollams and Brown (1978) describe it as

"An ever-expanding system of related techniques designed to help people understand and change their feelings and behaviors".

Eric Berne began to develop the theory of TA before 1958 when he had his first articles published containing the principles of TA and its concepts. His first book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy was published in 1961. This laid out a theory of personality and interpersonal relationships, in all his works extended over thirty - two years including seven books and fifty articles, transcripts and papers (Stewart 1992).

Berne described TA primarily as "a unified system of individual and social psychiatry", because of his extensive work within the psychiatric community both working with individuals and groups. In its strictest sense the term transactional analysis was used by Berne to denote the analysis of transactions.  In his book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy 1961 he described TA as “Structural and transactional analysis that offers a systematic, consistent theory of personality and social dynamics derived from clinical experience, and an actionistic, rational form of therapy which is suitable for, easily understood by, and naturally adapted to the great  majority of psychiatric patients".

TA Today (Stewart & Joines 1987) describe TA as defined by the ITAA (International Transactional Analysis Association) as "a theory of psychotherapy for personal growth and personal change". Stewart and Joines go on to to say it is a theory of personality which uses a three part model known as the ego state model, which helps us understand how people function and express their personality in terms of behavior.

Briefly TA also provides us with a theory of communication, it gives a method for analysing systems and organizations. It also offers a theory of child development, it offers life script explaining how are influenced by our history and the decisions we make about ourselves, others and the world because of that. It offers explanations as to how we continue to repeat patterns of behavior that may be self-defeating. Overall TA gives us a theory of psychopathology, a system of psychotherapy, a treatment system for all types psychological problems from average neurosis to psychosis.

Today's TA is used Clinically, Organizationally, Educationally and in the Counseling field. Certification is available in all these areas. For a more detailed description of TA look at the ITA web page.  



Psychotherapy & Self-Help Resources
Sites containing articles, information about disorders, discussion boards and professional resources for mental health.

About Psychotherapy
Takes on some of the major questions about psychotherapy and presents the information in language anyone can understand.

Mental Health Net
In depth resource with information about mental disorders, treatments and daily mental health news.

All About Counseling
A wonderful directory that lives up to its name—all you could want to know about counseling. Includes discussion boards, articles, FAQs and professional information.

Clinical Psychology Resources
Your one-stop shopping network for psychological theories. Analytical. Behavioral. Cognitive. Biofeedback. Links to resources explaining the varying theories of psychotherapy.

Mental Health Resources
Leonard Holmes, PhD has an impressive list of mental health resources at the About.com site he runs. Be sure to take a look at Self-Help and Psychotherapy.

Psych Central
Run by Dr. John Grohol, this web site has excellent articles and resources from Dr. Grohol. Includes a suicide helpline, a second opinion service, book reviews, news and resources.

Self Improvement Online
A massive directory of links and sites on all things relating to self improvement. There's also a list of self-help gurus that provides links to their books, products and web sites.

An interesting site with a cartoon introduction to the feelings associated with many mental anxieties. Also, includes brief dips into various mental health information.


Mental Health Resources

bulletMental Health Associations (Mental Health Infosource)
bulletSelf-Help Sourcebook Online Index (Mental Health Net)
bulletToll-Free Numbers for Health Information (NHIC)
bulletList of Resources for Help - Ask a question online, lists of online therapists, search for a therapist

Counseling and Psychotherapy Resources on the Internet.  

Everything from psychoanalysis to cognitive and behavioral therapies.  Psychotherapists can be psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, or social workers.  In some countries they simply call themselves psychotherapists.

What is it?  How can it help mental disorders?

Medications or Therapy for Depression
Which works better? It may depend on who you ask.

Open-Ended Questions
are often asked by therapists.  They encourage people to open-up and talk.

Cognitive Therapy for Depression and Anxiety
Find out more about these effective techniques

You Can't Do Psychotherapy on the Net, Yet
A longer-than-usual feature on issues involved in Online Therapy.

About Psychotherapy Best of the Net
An accessible site with excellent information about psychotherapy for a lay audience. Despite the name this is not an About site.

Self-Help Resources
resources to help you make changes in your life

Find a Therapist in Your Hometown
Using Directories on the Net.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Cocaine Addiction - Manual
Kathleen M. Carroll, Ph.D. from Yale University produced this comprehensive treatment manual for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A Community Reinforcement Tx Manual for Cocaine Addiction
Alan J. Budney, Ph.D. & Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D. of the University of Vermont have written this comprehensive therapy manual.


Mental Health Links

bulletInternet Mental Health *****
bulletAmerican Psychiatric Association's Public Information ****
bulletBehavior Online ****
bulletKEN - The National Mental Health Services Knowledge Exchange Network ****
bulletMental Health InfoSource ****
bulletMental Health Net ****
bulletMental Health Resources - About.com ****
bulletNational Institute of Mental Health's Public Information ****
bulletPsych Central - Dr. Grohol's Mental Health Page ****
bulletAt Health - Mental health resources ***
bulletClinical Psychology Resources - University of Bonn, Germany ***
bulletCognitive & Psychological Sciences on the Internet - Index to research resources ***
bulletComputers in Mental Health - Royal College of Psychiatrists ***
bulletDr. Bob's Mental Health Links ***
bulletDual Diagnosis Website - Mental Illness, Drug Addiction and Alcoholism (MIDAA) ***
bulletForensic Psychiatry & Medicine - Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D. ***
bulletLifescape - Mental Health Resources ***
bulletPolicy Information Exchange (PIE) - U.S. Health and Mental Health Policy Information ***
bulletPsychiatry and the Law - Forensic Psychiatry Resource Page ***
bulletPsychological Self-Help ***
bulletRoyal College of Psychiatrists “Help is at Hand” Leaflet Series ***
bulletShrinkTank BBS Web Site - Psychology/Mental Health Software ***
bulletU.S. Surgeon General - Mental Health Report ***
bulletAustralian Transcultural Mental Health Network **
bulletEuropean Federation of Family Associations of People with Mental Illlness (EUFAMI) **
bulletHealth Canada - Mental Health **
bullethelp! A Consumer's Guide to Mental Health Information **
bulletMental Health Foundation (U.K.) **
bulletPlanet Psych **
bulletSane Australia **
bulletSolo's Corner - information on Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, PTSD, DID, Suicide **
bulletSuite101.com - Mental Health **
bulletTreatment Advocacy Center - E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. **
bulletCanadian Mental Health Association's Pamphlet Series
bulleteMed Chart - mental health treatment monitoring project *
bulleteMJA Mental Health Information Centre - Medical Journal of Australia *
bulletHealth-Center: Mental Health *
bulletHealthyPlace Mental Health Communities *
bulletInteliHealth: Mental Health *
bulletMental Health for Teens - Suite101.com *
bulletScreening for Mental Health - Alcohol, Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders *

Other Mental Health Links

bulletCyberPsychLink ***
bulletDana BrainWeb ***
bulletNetPsych.com ***
bulletSchool Psychology Resources Online ***
bulletSpecifica: Web links for medical and mental health problems ***
bulletBUBL Psychiatry page **
bulletBUBL Psychology page **
bulletHealthGate - Mental Health **
bulletMedical Matrix - Psychiatry **
bulletOnline Dictionary of Mental Health - Human-Nature.com **
bulletPsychNet-UK International **