Psychotherapy and its Uses

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PatientPlus articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.

See also: What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, a Clinical Psychologist and a Psychotherapist? written for patients
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Psychotherapy can be defined as the treatment of mental and emotional disorders by trained psychotherapists using psychological methods. The Royal College of Psychiatrists describes psychotherapy as "... helping people overcome stress, emotional problems, relationship problems or troublesome habits ... they are all treatments based on talking to another person ..."[1]

In 2005 the Government made a commitment to improving the availability of psychological therapies (the preferred method being cognitive behavioural therapy) for patients as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.[2]

Various techniques can be are used in psychotherapy, eg modification of behavioural patterns that will persist in the long-term. Patients can be seen on an individual basis or within a group setting and they can be seen by one or more therapists. Psychotherapy can take usually take weeks, or even years, and regular sessions are usually necessary.

There are various types of psychotherapies, including the following:

Further reading & references

  1. Psychotherapy: The Royal College of Psychiatrists; 2005.
  2. The Division of Clinical Psychology; Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Dr Gurvinder Rull
Current Version:
Document ID:
4136 (v22)
Last Checked:
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