Psychotherapy is the practice of spending time with a trained professional—usually a psychologist, a social worker, or a licensed counselor—to help diagnose and treat mental and emotional problems, to talk through everyday difficulties, or to seek advice as a couple.
Psychotherapy (often just referred to as therapy) can be conducted using a variety of modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and others. Many therapists use a combination of different approaches.
Each modality utilizes particular techniques and focuses on certain outcomes. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for instance, involves identifying and challenging cognitive distortions and irrational thought patterns, while psychodynamic therapy aims to identify unconscious conflicts or repressed memories that may be contributing to real-world challenges. Some modes of therapy were specifically designed to treat certain conditions—borderline personality disorder, in the case of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)—but can be applied to other disorders or challenges as well.
Though therapy can be difficult to seek out—especially for low-income patients or those with inadequate insurance—many who have found a supportive therapist report that the experience has been beneficial for their mental health and overall well-being.