What is Therapy?

What is therapy? A definition of therapy and what it means to see a therapist for mental health symptoms, family therapy, or couples counseling.

Please make an appointment through the patient portal or call 443-300-6094 if you’re interested in pursuing therapy in Howard County, Maryland through Happy Honeysuckle Healing Center. If you have a psychiatric or medical emergency, please contact 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

This blog is for educational purposes only. This information is best case scenario, at least within the scope of my knowledge and experience at the time I write the post. Not only does everyone have different approaches to parenting and life- and my way may not be your cup of tea, but also- I am not perfect, nor do I want anyone to imagine that I am. Despite being a therapist and having a whole host of really cool techniques for all the mental health related things, I am constantly learning and trying to do better.

I’m hoping that this blog can help you. When we share what works for us, we can help others develop their own toolkit for improving their mental health.

What is Psychotherapy?

The official definition for psychotherapy is:

“The treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means.”

Lexico by Oxford Dictionary

Psychotherapy is meant to address your mental health symptoms; these include symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, coping with major life changes, and more. 

Therapy should revolve around finding coping mechanisms for your symptoms, then learning to apply them in your life.

You will not be laying back on a long couch and staring at the ceiling in most practices. Usually there’s comfortable seating in a private office, although some types of therapy have other setups.

Psychotherapy is not the same thing as psychiatric care. Psychiatry is for medication.

Psychiatry vs. Psychotherapy

A psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication- a psychotherapist cannot. In rare instances a provider will hold both degrees and can do both. 

A psychiatrist will meet with you once for an intake session and based on your symptoms, will diagnose you. That diagnosis is used to determine what medication(s) might best treat your symptoms.

After your initial appointment, you will go back for routine check-ups. Those appointments are expected to be around 15 minutes; you should use the time to bring up any side effects or problems with the medication.

Initially you will have more frequent follow up appointments. Once your medication seems to be working consistently, you will have less frequent appointments.

A psychotherapist will start with an intake session to discuss your complete history, including medical history. The therapist will spend time with you regularly to discuss coping skills, your history, and current struggles in your life. They may discuss referrals to other providers such as a psychiatrist or to your primary care doctor (PCP) for additional tests or services.

Usually you will see your therapist for weekly 45 minute appointments. In some cases, this will vary depending on your needs and insurance coverage.

As you feel better, you can see your therapist less frequently.

In most cases, those who are on medication should also be seeing a therapist to help work on coping skills. Research has shown that the patients feel better if they receive both medication AND therapy.

Some people find that therapy alone is helpful enough to manage their symptoms. Other people need medication long term. Some clients take medication for a short period of time while they learn coping skills from a therapist; they’re able to wean off the medication under the supervision of their psychiatrist once they feel better.

Session Types

There are several types of sessions available for therapy.

  1. Individual Therapy: This is 1:1 therapy with a therapist.
  2. Family Therapy: This therapy involves bringing the whole family, which can include others living in your home such as grandparents.
  3. Couples Therapy: Therapy between a couple only.
  4. Group Therapy: Group therapy is usually setup around a theme so people with similar issues can meet. These often include groups for post partum depression, grief and loss, and anger management. Groups can be an affordable alternative to individual therapy and extremely effective as well. For some presenting issues, they may be more effective than 1:1 treatment.

Other Types of Therapy

There are many different types of therapies and while therapy is often associated with mental health, people also receive therapy for speech and other issues.

Other types of therapy include:

What this boils down to is that your best bet for searching out a mental health therapist is to use the term “psychotherapy” or “mental health.”