The fundamental task of the psychotherapeutic relationship is to create an interpersonal environment in which we can discover, become and deal more creatively with who we are, so that we might engage more realistically and with deeper fulfillment in the world. The therapist is there to offer empathic involvement in our unfolding, without judgment or blame, but with curiosity, compassion and respect for our distinct being and unknown destiny. Reaching out for psychotherapeutic help is generally not easy. We may feel shame and fear about asking for help, as well as about who we are or what we may discover about ourselves. And there are many different approaches to the theory and practice of psychotherapy, with at least as many myths and misconceptions about it. At a time when we may feel out of control in our lives it can be challenging to go shopping for an appropriate therapist. So our first task is this venturing out, trusting that we can find someone with whom to share our important process, someone who feels right for us.
Sigmund Freud is generally seen as the father of psychotherapy, for having created a means of investigating and working therapeutically with what he called the unconscious dimension of the human being. Since his time the field of psychotherapy has evolved enormously, and many different schools of thought have arisen which emphasize different aspects of our psychology or of the therapeutic process, and our experience of therapy will differ enormously from one form to another.
What to Expect
When we go for an initial consultation with a psychotherapist, of whatever school, we can expect to be treated respectfully and to have our questions about the work answered. Besides having different ways of practicing, therapists will have different policies about how long and how frequent appointments are, fees and how they are paid and basic boundaries to the work. If you ever feel your therapist is treating you inappropriately, address it with them. If you cannot get satisfaction seek help from one of the professional bodies listed below. And if your therapist is ever sexual with you leave the relationship immediately and seek help from a professional body.
Training & Colleges
There are different routes to the practice of psychotherapy. The most common one is attendance of a 4 year accredited training program. However not all practising psychotherapists are accredited. If you have concerns about this bring it up in the initial meeting.
Education & Training