Psychotherapy (psycho=the mind or soul) (therapy=the process of healing) refers to an examination and healing of a person’s current and previous thought, feelings, and behaviors, which are responsible for their current difficulties, in order to transform them, resulting in greater emotional freedom, productivity, and happiness. Competent psychotherapists are trained to understand how the subconscious operates, and to help them understand and overcome long standing negative emotions and patterns of behavior that they may have been experiencing for many years. Old maladaptive outlooks on themselves, others, and of life, often caused by past traumas that have not been sufficiently dealt with, can be addressed, understood, and transformed during the therapy process. Psychotherapy requires a much higher level of education, training, and experience than does counseling. Psychotherapy includes counseling skills, but not vice versa. Competent therapists are comfortable working with strong emotions (rage, anger, sadness, fear, guilt and shame), and are able to encourage and help, their clients to both tolerate, and experience their emotions, without engaging negative judgment. This needs to be accomplished in order to gain permanent release, as opposed to temporary relief from emotional difficulties.
Competent therapist are able to empathize (emotionally connect and understand) what their clients are presently experiencing, yet also remain objective, in order help the client become less attached to their painful experiences. They are able to guide their client to talk about the most productive topics, in order to help them gain the most out of the therapy hour. In addition, competent therapists are trained to ask the right questions at the right moment, to both ensure that the therapy is headed in a positive direction, and to continue to create a trusting and positive therapeutic relationship, which is essential in all successful therapies. Finally, an effective therapist is familiar with their own issues, some of which may still be ongoing, and is able to separate their own “hot buttons” from their client’s, so that the therapy is not contaminated, and remains always focused on helping their client heal.