The Merriam Webster online dictionary 2008, defines Psychotherapy as the “treatment of mental or emotional disorder or of related bodily ills by psychological means”. The treatment requires the involvement of trained psychotherapists, a class of specialists whose exact definition is a matter of great debate. This essay aims at examining the need for psychotherapy as also the need for choosing the right psychotherapist.
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In the modern, fast paced world, the dictates of the job environment have had a concomitant effect on the human social structure. The traditional large joint families have given way to small nuclear families and single parent families. People are increasingly leading lonely lives with a result that mental illness or emotional disorders are now becoming common. Whyte states that “Mental health and emotional problems are common.
It has been estimated that 10-30% of patients who consult GPs have mainly emotional problems.”(541). All normal people too face emotional stresses in day to day life. While in the olden days, the emotional counselors were the elders, parents or the family priest, now-a-days, greater fragmentation of family structures have led to a search for psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists to fill in the void. Mental illnesses and emotional disorders are greatly ameliorated if tackled at an early stage. Therefore, consulting a psychotherapist in the initial stages, can in many cases help in arresting the further development of the affliction and in some cases lead to complete recovery. Thus consulting a psychotherapist is a necessity.
Who is a psychotherapist? Alexander, defines a psychotherapist as “a physician who specializes in the treatment of disease by psychotherapy.” He also acknowledges that “In the large field of non-therapeutic efforts which contribute greatly to the advantageous use of psychotherapy, the social worker and psychologist may fulfill their legitimate and essential roles.”(308). It is important to choose the right kind of psychotherapist because the success of any psychotherapy treatment depends on three factors namely the patient’s personality and condition, the psychotherapist’s qualities of empathy and expertise and the type of treatment rendered.
According to Vaknin, “the application of psychological theories (in the form of psychotherapy) is “tailored” and “customized” to the circumstances of each and every patient (client)”. Qualifications of a psychotherapist have been largely an unregulated area.
Watkins, very succinctly states that “the last set of American Psychiatric Association standards for supervisors (psychotherapists) was 1957.”(7) When choosing a psychotherapist it would be worthwhile checking the professional credentials, background and reputation of the psychotherapist. A psychotherapist who is of the same community and the region as the patient also helps as such a specialist is likely to have a greater understanding of the patient’s social conditions.
As the modern day environment becomes increasingly competitive, the demands on humans and the society at large will significantly increase the incidents of mental illness and emotional disorders amongst the people. Therefore, counseling in the form of psychotherapy will increasingly become a necessity as also will become the need to choose the right, suitably qualified psychotherapist.
Alexander, George. H. “Psychotherapy and the Psychotherapist: New Orientations”. 1940. Psychosomatic Medicine—vol. ii, no. 3. Web.
“Psychotherapy.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. Web.
Vaknin, Sam. “The Conundrums of Psychology”. 2006. Project Gutenberg Website. A Narcissus Publications Imprint, Skopje. Web.
Watkins, Edward C. “Psychotherapy Supervision in the 21st Century”. 1998. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research. Web.
Whyte, Chris. “The Need for Dynamic Psychotherapy”. Psychiatric Bulletin (1996). Web.