One of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life was to engage in the process of psychotherapy while I was training to become a clinical psychologist. Although it was mandatory for those of us who were training to become psychoanalysts, I nevertheless welcomed the experience –albeit with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity about what this type of treatment entailed.
In spite of reading multiple books and journal articles on the subject during graduate and postgraduate training, I really had no clue what it really meant to “be” in psychotherapy, not to mention the impact that it could have on a person’s life; in this case, mine. I read many books and articles written by famous clinicians and theorists, and learned techniques to provide treatment for issues related to anxiety, panic, depression, loneliness, interpersonal difficulties, loss, abandonment, irrational guilt, medical illness, trauma, and other aspects of human suffering that we all experience at one time or another during the course of our lives. However, it really wasn’t until it was my life the one that was being discussed and explored that I began to truly understand the power, clarity and beauty of being able to make sense of things that had been previously confusing, misunderstood and distorted. It was while being in a solid and anchored psychotherapeutic relationship that I began to feel validated and understood, as well as realizing how I unconsciously contributed to some of the difficulties I had encountered. There is a lot more work to be done…
Psychotherapy has been defined in many different ways by many different people, beginning with Sigmund Freud and his followers, to the more contemporary theorists. Some theorists have defined it in terms of providing relief for troubling symptoms, such as experiencing nervousness or pervasive sadness. Others have discussed this experience as a necessary component of understanding what drives us to engage in behaviors that perhaps could be considered maladaptive. Perhaps it is defined as the pursuit of attempting to figure out why we perpetually find ourselves in similar situations and relationships, or why we are constantly encountering obstacles that keep us from obtaining our goals.
Psychotherapy is a unique experience that provides the opportunity to share the nature of difficult experiences and challenging emotional states in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It is also an opportunity to make personal changes, better choices, become empowered in the face of adversity, and improve the quality of our lives.
Psychotherapeutic techniques range from concrete, step-by-step problem solving interventions, self-exploration, interpersonal conflict resolution, and/or the examination of the more existential issues of our lives. Psychotherapy requires willingness to change, courage, and hard work, potentially resulting in greater psychological freedom from issues that have interfered with the continual development of our intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives.
The Jackson Mental Health Hospital provides a wide variety of psychotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of multiple mental health issues. Our highly trained staff specializes in the provision of services to diverse populations including children, adults, and the elderly in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Guest blogger Dr. Efrain A. Gonzalez, Psy.D., M.S.ClinPharm, ABPP is director of medical psychology at Jackson Mental Health Hospital.