Frequently Asked Questions
Psychotherapy is a Way to Overcome Problematic Thoughts or Behaviours
Psychotherapy addresses personal difficulties. It allows an individual, family, or couple, to talk openly and confidentially about their concerns and feelings with a trained professional. Almost all types of psychotherapy involve developing a therapeutic relationship, communicating and creating a dialogue, and working to overcome problematic thoughts, feelings or behaviours.
Psychotherapy aims to increase an individual's sense of wellbeing and relationships.
Psychotherapists are sensitive to the client's needs and employ a wide range of skills to facilitate the client's goals.
Individuals who are licensed to practise psychotherapy are called Registered Psychotherapists, or they may come from related disciplines such as psychiatry, psychology, or social work.
Psychotherapy may be useful if:
- You’re facing situations causing you stress, anxiety and upset.
- You are experiencing intense or uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, frustration and depression.
- You are behaving in ways that don’t fit your normal pattern, don’t serve your needs, or are problematic to you or others.
- You are thinking thoughts that are peculiar, hard to understand, out-of-control or disturbing.
- You’ve experienced a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, a serious accident or a criminal injury.
- You are dealing with a relationship issue or family conflict.
- You’re going through a difficult life transition, such as the death of a loved one, a life-threatening illness, divorce, separation, or a mid-life crisis.
- You are challenged by family issues, such as parenting, child-rearing, adolescence, and aging parents.
- You need help with an addiction such as smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling.
- You have an eating disorder.
- You are facing difficulties with matters of gender identity, sexual orientation, racism and oppression.
- You wish to explore spiritual issues, questions of meaning or matters of faith.
They are as different as the people who seek it. Some feel life is unfulfilling. Some want to add depth to their life. Many are experiencing emotional pain. Whenever you feel that life should be better, you can’t cope, or can’t go on, it’s a sign that psychotherapy can be of assistance.
Whatever challenges you are facing from day to day, each therapy approach has certain strengths and limitations attached to it.
Here are some useful pointers to help you better understand the differences between counselling, coaching and psychotherapy.
Life coaching focuses directly on identifying what you wish to achieve in the present and future. Coaches help you identify manageable goals and set tasks you can undertake to achieve your goals. Coaches tend to use a combination of enquiry, diagrams and exercises, to help you understand problem areas and identify ways to overcome them. People can find the visual and active elements of coaching helpful. If you are highly motivated and the problems you face are practical, business or career concerns, coaching can be very effective.
Coaching can be limited in its ability to help you tackle more deep-rooted problems. Coaching training does not cover the influence of our past history (a coaching qualification can be obtained in 1-6 months) and therefore, some coaches try to encourage clients past a problem, through active strategies, which are not always effective. The problem here, is when you do not understand the value of a problematic habit fully, you tend to keep on using it, even if you don’t want to. Where coaching alone can fall short, counselling and psychotherapy can provide that extra help, to understand and get through stubborn problems.
Historically, counselling trainings were shorter and less in-depth compared to psychotherapy. Counselling was viewed as an intervention that was helpful with lighter problems, but a counsellor was not equipped to deal with more complex issues. Today, the difference between counselling and psychotherapy is not so great, as counselling trainings have become more rigorous. When choosing a counsellor or psychotherapist, it is a good idea to look at the length and quality of training the therapist has undertaken. The act of psychotherapy is regulated in Ontario, so you need to ensure your therapist is registered with a regulatory college.
In Ontario, members of six regulatory colleges are authorized to provide the controlled act of psychotherapy provided they do so in compliance with the regulations and the bylaws established by their regulatory colleges. In addition to Registered Psychotherapists, these are: practitioners who are registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, College of Nurses of Ontario, College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Counsellors, life coaches and other professionals who are not registered with a regulatory college whose members are authorized to provide the controlled act are not permitted to provide the controlled act or represent themselves (“hold themselves out”) as psychotherapists.
Both medication and therapy have been shown to be effective in treating mental illness. The type of treatment used depends on the nature of the problem. Generally, medication is often prescribed for conditions known to have strong biological components, such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety and/or panic disorder.
Research suggests that use of medication and psychotherapy together may be the best approach, especially for more severe conditions. The medication offers relief from symptoms, and psychotherapy enables the individual to gain knowledge about her condition and how to handle it. This combined approach offers the fastest, longest-lasting treatment
Before you are able to seek help, you will need to find and choose the right psychotherapist but choosing one should not be a random selection or based on chance. Firstly, it is important to ensure you find psychotherapists who are properly trained and certified.
Psychologists and psychotherapists undergo rigorous schooling, training and internship to receive their degrees. They are highly-trained and highly qualified professionals, who undergo about eleven years of schooling to obtain their doctoral degree, so finding the right therapist is not a matter of education but of research and personal preferences.
When it comes time to finally make a selection, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What are your main goals for seeking psychotherapy? What do you hope to accomplish?
- Is it covered by your health insurance or work benefits?
- If not, how much can you spend or are willing to spend?
- How far are you willing to commute?
- Would you consider attending sessions with your spouse, significant other, or family members?
Individuals often wonder if they would do better with a male or female therapist. Research on therapist traits and therapy outcome has failed to identify any relationship between the two. Factors such as warmth and empathy are much more related to outcome than therapist gender. However, the nature of your particular problem as well as your own preferences may lead you to seek out a male or female therapist. For example, a woman who was sexually abused by her father may feel more comfortable working with a woman therapist.