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Psychotherapy involves undergoing regular meetings or sessions with a psychotherapist who is trained to listen to you in a non-judgemental empathetic way and who can help you make sense of your thoughts and feelings in order to reach an understanding of what the problems are and how they can be dealt with in a more constructive and positive way. It has not to be confused with psychiatry even though some psychotherapists may have psychiatric training. Psychotherapists are usually trained in another discipline which may be psychiatry, nursing, psychology, or social work amongst others, and will have undergone some form of advanced training in psychological and counselling techniques. There is a current debate about the difference between counselling and psychotherapy with no clear-cut definition between the two. On a simple level, someone may need counselling to help them deal with a particular crisis or situation in their lives such as divorce, redundancy, or other traumatic event. Counselling can help an individual feel better and more positive, it can improve confidence and help a person regain control of their lives. Psychotherapy on the other hand can help people to deal with psychological problems which may have developed over a period of time or that require some kind of specialist help. As you can see, there is a great deal of overlap between them. So what sort of problems can psychotherapy help with? Basically, anything that is causing emotional or psychological distress. For example: * Anxiety and Stress * Panic Attacks * Depression * Relationship problems * Difficulties at work * Eating disorders * Alcohol and drug abuse * Social exclusion * Problems relating to sexuality * Post traumatic stress disorder * Personality disorders * Victimisation and abuse * Phobias * Obsessive compulsive disorders * Post natal depression How do I get referred for psychotherapy? You could start by speaking to your doctor as he or she will be able to advise you on the best course of action for you and your particular circumstances or you may prefer to seek out a suitable therapist yourself on a private basis. Current NICE guidelines recommend that when someone is suffering from a mental health problem they should be offered some form of therapy before resorting to drugs. In the past this has not always been possible due to a general lack of therapists in some areas so doctors were often left with little option other than to prescribe medication. However, the NHS in the UK plans to increase the number of therapists in order to make talking therapies more available on the NHS. Indeed, in the light of recent reports that Prozac and other SSRIs are ineffective for some types of depression, in the future psychotherapy is likely to become one of the first options in any treatment plan for mild to moderate depression as well as other types of mental health problems. What are the different types of psychotherapy available? There are many different types of psychotherapy available, so finding the right one for you can be daunting if you don't know what the various options are. Broadly speaking, some of the most common approaches include cognitive behaviour therapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapy and group therapy. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT as it is sometimes referred to aims to change the negative behaviour patterns or ways of thinking that may be quite destructive into more positive ways of thinking in order to bring about a change in the way that an individual perceives themselves, those around them and the world in general. By talking to a cognitive behaviour therapist about how you feel about yourself, your environment and the people around you and exploring how the way you think influences your behaviour, new ways of coping and dealing with situations can be identified. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy This type of therapy is aimed at reaching the underlying reasons for the psychological problems or distress experienced by an individual, which are often subconscious in nature. By understanding the causes then it is possible to reach a new level of awareness so that the individual can alter their thinking patterns and behaviour and regain a sense of wellbeing. Group therapy Sometimes people who are suffering from similar problems and issues may benefit from group therapy sessions. The main advantage here is that someone undergoing group therapy doesn't feel alone, they have the support of others in the group who are able to understand what each person is going through, which can be a positive step forward to becoming well again.
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