How helpful is therapy?
For many individuals who face difficult adjustments or significant changes in their lives, it can be rather challenging to try to manage these crises or stressors on their own. Often times, the psychological distress caused by these changes will affect our emotional health and the functioning of our relationships with others. As humans, we are naturally relational and, as such, our psychological and emotional needs require relational attention, which psychotherapy is able to provide in a substantial way.
Therapy provides us with a relational experience with a skilled clinician who is trained in helping us gain more insight and understanding about ourselves, the feelings we experience, the patterns of our behaviors, and the motivations that drive our relationships with others. In couples counseling or family therapy, we are able to gain a clearer sense of how we communicate with others, what motivates our behavior, and how our own personalities influence the way we develop relationships with others.
As a clinical practice, psychotherapy is skilled in treating and managing the various emotional and psychological symptoms in our life that might also be affecting the health of our relationships with others. In fact, as our understanding of the human mind and psyche continues to grow through the expansion of scientific study, research has demonstrated that the effects of therapy help to promote healthy brain functioning. Therapy assists in stimulating neuronal activation and growth, which enables our neurobiological system to adapt and grow in stride with our emotional system, and vice versa. In light of this, psychotherapy is an efficacious compliment to utilizing psychiatric medication, both of which are focused on helping us manage psychological symptoms.
Psychotherapy also assists us in gaining a better sense of direction, purpose and meaning in our lives. As such, there is a spiritual and existential component to therapy that is not only focused on alleviating uncomfortable symptoms or behaviors, but is also able to address a deeper sense of meaningfulness that we all search for as humans. The history of psychotherapy actually shares a similar heritage with the ancient practices and healing rituals of various spiritual traditions. As such, psychotherapy can be considered to be a type of "soul work" as well as a form of treatment for emotional, relational, and psychological needs.
Please see the following references for more research information about the benefits of psychotherapy:
- Constantino, M.J., Ametrano, R.M., & Greenberg, R.P. (2012). Clinical interventions and participant characteristics that foster adaptive patient expectations for psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic change. Psychotherapy, 49(4), 557-569.
- Fishbane, M.D. (2007). Wired to connect: Neuroscience, relationships, and therapy. Family Process, 46(3), 395-412.
- Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65(2), 98-109.
- Siegel, D. (2009). Mindful awareness, mindsight, and neural integration. The Humanist Psychologist, 37(2), 137-158.
- Siegel, D. (2012). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
- Verheul, R. & Herbrink, M. (2007). The efficacy of various modalities of psychotherapy for personality disorders: A systematic review of the evidence and clinical recommendations. International Review of Psychiatry, 19(1), 25-38.
What is a Psychologist and what is Psychotherapy?
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest professional organization of psychologists, of which Dr. McNutt is a full clinical member. The APA provides it's own definition of psychologists and psychotherapy:
"Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in the areas of human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change. Psychologists work with patients to change their feelings and attitudes and help them develop healthier, more effective patterns of behavior.
Psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people change their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between an individual and a psychologist. It provides a supportive environment to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings. Psychologists consider maintaining your confidentiality extremely important and will answer your questions regarding those rare circumstances when confidential information must be shared.
After graduation from college, psychologists spend an average of seven years in graduate education training and research before receiving a doctoral degree. As part of their professional training, they must complete a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or organized health setting and at least one year of post-doctoral supervised experience before they can practice independently in any health care arena. It's this combination of doctoral-level training and a clinical internship that distinguishes psychologists from many other mental health care providers.
Psychologists must be licensed by the state or jurisdiction in which they practice. Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those persons qualified to practice psychology as defined by state law. In most states, renewal of this license depends upon the demonstration of continued competence and requires continuing education. In addition, APA members adhere to a strict code of professional ethics."
For more information about psychology, psychologists, and psychotherapy, please feel free to visit the APA's website at http://www.apa.org/about/index.aspx.