Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental and emotional disturbances and disorders using a variety of psychological techniques and methods. Although there are a number of different types of psychotherapy, each relies on communication as the basic tool for bringing about change in an individual’s feelings and behaviours. There is a wide variety of psychotherapeutic modalities (e.g. individual, couple, family, group) and theoretical approaches (e.g. psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural, humanistic, brief), and the length of psychotherapy depends on the complexity and severity of problems.

While most psychotherapy hinges on communication between the therapist and the individual, it involves much more than talking about your problems. While family or friends can help us feel better, or even provide good advice for change, this is not psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a professional relationship, between a therapist and client, which is based on therapeutic principles, structure and technique. It differs from other relationships in that the relationship between a therapist and client is strictly professional. That is, the relationship exists only and solely for the purpose of helping the client.

Psychotherapy can help individuals in a variety of ways. Clients receive emotional support, resolve conflicts with people, understand feelings and problems, and try out new solutions to old problems. Goals for therapy may be specific (change in behaviour, improved relations with friends or family), or more general (reduced anxiety, improved self-esteem).