Psychotherapy in North Kingstown


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To make a complex topic very simple, psychotherapy is the process where a patient uses talking AND LISTENING to get better. It is important to clearly state this fact because many patients think that all they have to do is to go into a therapist’s office and to talk and to be heard; when I hear them tell me this, I reply that is what friends, bartenders, and hairstylists are for. Certainly a good therapist will listen to a patient, but the work only begins there; indeed it is the change recommended and the work done outside the session where progress is truly made.

Psychotherapy primarily started with Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist who starting in the late 19th century had ideas that there was conflict IN THE ACTUAL BRAIN that needed to come out. Words like ego, superego, conscious and subconscious all come out of his work.  These are the classic images of a patient lying on a couch, staring at the ceiling, talking and talking with the therapist making interventions only periodically. Psychiatry was known as “the talking cure,” frankly because no medications were really available to help people. 

Psychotherapies that developed in the 20th century have primarily focused on helping people change the way they think and feel (called cognitive-behavioral therapy).  These therapies are the major modalities of treatment today and, in the end, they have more in common that they differ. The best way to explain how these treatments work is through the analogy of another common type of therapy, physical therapy. If someone sprains an ankle, there may be a brief period of rest and support, but after that, a patient is expected to engage in (often painful) exercises to strengthen the joint.  Modern psychotherapy is the same way. A therapist may ask a patient to change the way they think about a panic attack, or the automatic negative thoughts that can flood a person’s mind, or the way they think about a loved one. A therapist may then ask a patient to tolerate the anxiety of a panic attack, or the fatigue associated with getting out of bed, or the distress associated with physical pain. All of these are forms of psychotherapy, and by clear and convincing evidence, that they have been shown to be effective for every psychiatric condition.  

Common terms for therapy include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Behavioral activation
  • Existential psychotherapy
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Exposure and response prevention

Frequently Asked Questions About Psychotherapy


What is the difference between psychotherapy and counseling?


Psychotherapy typically focuses on a broad range of issues and is more of a long-term treatment, while counseling tends to be short-term and focuses on specific issues to help a person resolve a particular problem like stress management.


What is the main goal of psychotherapy?


The ultimate goal of psychotherapy is to enhance the capacity of every person to live up to their full mental potential, bringing them contentment and inner happiness.


What are the primary goals of Psychotherapy?


You may choose to participate in psychotherapy to:

  • Know yourself better
  • Resolve emotional pain or confusion
  • Develop insight into your psychological issues
  • Learn more effective coping mechanisms
  • Understand your past and set goals for the future

What exactly does a psychotherapist do?


A psychotherapist is a trained professional who assists patients with a broad range of mental health conditions, including depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, stress, anxiety, and negative behavior patterns. Psychotherapists have a number of different tools and therapies available to help patients achieve their treatment goals.


What is an example of psychotherapy?


One of the most popular types of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps patients identify unhealthy thought patterns and replace them with healthier ones. Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of CBT that gives patients the tools they need to better handle stress, relationships, and negative emotions.


Does psychotherapy actually work?


Yes, psychotherapy is an effective treatment for most mental health disorders, especially when combined with medications. One study shows that of people who attend psychotherapy sessions once a week, 50% showed significant improvement after two months and 75% had an improvement in symptoms after six months.


What is the most effective psychotherapy?


The most effective psychotherapy depends on the condition being treated and a patient’s personal preferences and background. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective for anxiety disorders. Behavioral activation therapy (BAT) is a type of CBT, and is often regarded as the most effective nonmedical intervention for depressive disorders, particularly for mild to moderate depression.


Is psychotherapy effective for anxiety?


Yes, psychotherapy is effective for treating anxiety, as it allows patients to identify and manage the factors and thought patterns that contribute to their disorder. Some patients find relief with psychotherapy alone, while others use therapy in conjunction with medication.


What type of therapy is best for anxiety?


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapy for anxiety disorders. There is a great deal of research showing that it is highly effective in the treatment of panic disorder, specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.


Is psychotherapy better than medication?


Patients who use psychotherapy in conjunction with medication have fewer relapses of anxiety and depression than those who use medication alone. That said, every patient has their own unique needs and preferences, and our treatment plans take this into consideration.