The idea of psychotherapy was first developed in Vienna over a century ago, by the famous Sigmund Freud. Freud’s work with patients led him to believe that mental health problems such as depression and anxiety were the result of keeping difficult thoughts and memories locked in the unconscious mind. Freud proposed that treatment should revolve around listening to the patient and by providing interpretation of their thoughts, bringing these memories into the conscious mind, thereby reducing symptoms. This idea led to the popular image of therapy, as individuals lying on the couch reciting their innermost thoughts to the therapist with a clipboard.
Although different forms of this therapy became established, the major change came in the 1950s, when a psychologist named Carl Rogers developed person-centred psychotherapy which viewed all individuals as unique, and therefore requiring unique solutions to their problems. Under this view, the role of the therapist was to create a comfortable, empathic and non-judgemental environment which would aid patients find their own solutions to their problems. While this view of therapy forms the basis of modern day psychotherapy, there are many approaches that are currently in use.
The different forms of psychotherapy include:
- Person-centred/humanistic psychotherapy
- Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherap
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Integrated therapy
What issues are suited to Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy can prove useful in treating a number of emotional problems and can help you to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as identify the causes of what makes you feel distressed so that you are better able to deal with the problem.
Psychotherapy can help with a range of conditions and issues. For specific examples, see our summary of evidenced based guidelines showing what type of therapy is most effective for specific difficulties.