Psychotherapy is one of the most useful tools we have to help people improve their health and well-being. We have known for some time that mind and body work together and have a powerful influence on each other. Our emotional states, the way we handle difficulties and the way we perceive life events all have an impact on our health.
Studies show that 50-75 percent of regular doctor's office visits have a strong emotional component. The presence of a compassionate healer alone can have a dramatic impact on health, but psychotherapy can add an important dimension. A skilled therapist can help guide you through thoughts, feelings, perceptions and beliefs in a way that helps you make wise choices about your life, and feel more in control of your circumstances.
In a medical setting, psychotherapy encompasses all the goals and techniques of general psychotherapy but with a specific focus in mind. Medical psychotherapy helps people recognize their strengths, enhances coping skills and helps them resolve problems directly related to health issues. Specific techniques such as stress reduction, specific coping skills and personal insight are standard. In addition, psychotherapy can identify and treat conditions that are barriers to healing, such as depression and anxiety.
Treatment is always tailored to the individual's needs. Length of time can vary from several sessions to several months. The therapist and client always work as a team. Ultimately, the goal of psychotherapy is to increase zest and enthusiasm for living and to strengthen a person's ability to make healthy choices.
Some types of therapy
Cognitive psychotherapy: This involves exploring belief systems, thought patterns and perceptions that influence our behavior and attitudes.
Behavioral therapy: This is designed to help people reduce or stop undesirable behaviors, and the process is structured. Many therapies combine this and cognitive psychotherapy.
Psychodynamic or insight oriented therapy: This is designed to help people understand the role and influence of life events and ongoing experiences that contribute to the presenting problems.
Group therapy: All three of the above therapies may be offered in group format.
Marital and family therapy: Family adjustments usually have to occur when someone has a chronic medical illness. Family treatment can facilitate these changes and ensure optimal family functioning.
There are many other kinds of psychotherapy techniques and methods specifically designed for certain populations, such as children, adults, couples and the family. Some therapists specialize in certain populations, such as racial/ethnic minorities, victims of abuse or violence, persons with chronic illness, and others. There are specific trainings for each of these approaches.
The Division of Psychosocial Medicine includes licensed providers in psychiatry, psychology, neuropsychology, social work and martial and family therapy. Each is trained in different approaches and works closely with our other doctors and medical staff to ensure that the best possible "whole person" care is given to our patients.