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What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a treatment for emotional, psychological, or mental problems, in which a therapist and patient sit together and talk about the patient's problems.

What Kinds of Psychotherapy

Do You Offer? 

Although there are many types of psychotherapy, in my work I practice psychodynamic psychotherapy, also known as psychoanalytic psychotherapy, or insight-oriented psychotherapy. This kind of therapy is based on the principle that our unconscious thoughts, of which we are unaware, powerfully influence our feelings, behaviors, symptoms, and relationships.

I also practice psychoanalysis, which is a related treatment modality.

What Are the Main Distinguishing Features of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

  • Focusing on feelings, rather than thoughts
  • Trying to understand the reasons for avoiding painful feelings and experiences
  • Identifying lifelong patterns
  • Discussing past experiences and their influence on the present
  • Focusing on interpersonal relationships
  • Focusing on the patient's relationship with the therapist

What Happens in a

Psychotherapy Session?

In a psychotherapy session, you talk about whatever's on your mind. I listen and try to understand, clarifying with questions, making occasional comments, and pointing out connections in your thoughts and feelings. Together, we use this understanding to gain insights which help you feel better.

How Frequently Do We

Meet for Psychotherapy?

In psychotherapy, we generally meet anywhere between one and three times per week. Occasionally, if there are unusual time constraints, we can meet less frequently.

How Long Will I Be in Psychotherapy?

It all depends on your needs. There is no set time limit in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Some people complete treatment in a few months, some take many years. The average is around three years. 

A major goal of psychotherapy is not to need psychotherapy. It's important to devote enough time to it so that when you're done, you're truly done. Most problems that are treated in psychotherapy are long-standing, so it's unrealistic to expect them to go away quickly. 

Can I Take Medications

While I Am In Psychotherapy?

Yes. There's no reason to stop medications you're already taking, or not to start medications you might need, just because you're in psychotherapy. Sometimes medications can even make it easier for you to engage in psychotherapy.

On the other hand, psychotherapy can be helpful enough that you may decide you don't need to start or continue taking medication.

How Does Psychotherapy Work?

Early on in our lives, we establish patterns of feeling, thinking, and reacting, as well as beliefs about ourselves. These are all based on our innate constitutions, and the environments in which we are raised. Often, these patterns exist outside our awareness, but they impact our daily lives, resulting in interpersonal and professional difficulties, and even symptoms of illness such as anxiety and depression.

Psychotherapy helps the patient become aware of these patterns and their impact, trace them to their origins, question their validity and applicability to her current daily life, and shift the way she thinks about them, and about herself. 

But recognizing and understanding the patterns is not enough. For real change to take place, the feelings and beliefs surrounding the patterns need to shift, and the relationship between patient and therapist is what makes this happen. Long-standing patterns are relived in "real time" in the therapy, but instead of the outcome the patient has come to expect from the past, the therapist can respond in an emotionally neutral and uncritical way, by pointing out the pattern, and asking the patient to try to understand it. In this way, after many repetitions, the patient's feelings can change, and the patient will begin to see herself and the world differently. 

What if I have nothing to say?

This is a common concern when starting therapy. Silence makes many people uncomfortable. But the mind is always busy with some thought. If you find you have nothing to say in a session, it's usually because there's something on your mind that's too hard to say. Occasionally, you may also "draw a blank", where you really can't think of anything. In either of these cases, there is something going on that would be helpful to understand, and we would try to talk about what that is.