Psychotherapy is a basic term for treating mental health problems. It is often called "talk therapy." Individual counseling is done by speaking with a mental health professional such as a licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist. During psychotherapy you learn about your moods, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. With psychotherapy you learn how to take back control of your life with new approaches and coping skills. Over time you gain insight into your behaviors and emotions that have contributed to your problems and learn how to change them. Psychotherapy can help you identify life's problems-major illness, death of a loved one, loss of independence, divorce, job loss-that may have contributed to mental health issues and help solve or improve your outlook.
To fully benefit from individual counseling it is best to attend all scheduled appointments. The effectiveness of therapy depends on your active participation. Therapy is not a 'quick fix." Positive results can take longer to see than taking medication but evidence shows that the effects of psychotherapy last longer. It requires time, effort and commitment. When you actively participate, recovery can be quicker and with fewer relapses. I often tell my patients that while I wish I could take their pain away quickly, my "magic wand" is not that powerful. You do have to do the work and I am there to guide you.
There are many different approaches to psychotherapy, too many to focus on in this article. A mental health professional generally draws on one or more theories depending on the patient's problems and their assessment. Psychotherapy provides direction for the mental health professional to understand their clients and develop solutions.