What is Psychotherapy?

  1. What is Psychotherapy?
  2. What training do psychotherapists have?
  3. Do psychotherapists have personal therapy experience?
  4. What is psychology?
  5. What is psychiatry?
  6. What about licensing?
  7. How can I use my common sense in choosing a therapist?
  8. What is psychodynamic psychotherapy?

There is no absolute agreement on this broad term. The word literally means a 'cure for the soul'.

Psychotherapy is an interactive process that includes many methods and techniques to help people deal with issues that are preventing them from living fully.

Psychotherapy assumes we are capable of a greater degree of conscious control of our lives. Rather than relying on medications or on rules, it helps people grow and improve their lives using various other techniques and approaches.

These include an exploratory analytic and psychodynamic dialogue during individual private meetings, group-work, along with dream work, psychodrama, movement exercises, trance, reflection, meditation, and various kinds of bodywork, all according to the specific needs of the client.
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What training do psychotherapists have?

People go to trained therapists in order to do a particular kind of work, which some call 'life lessons', that provide fresh learning about how to have more real choice and freedom in all parts of their life.

Psychotherapists tend to take a broad view of life and they tend to offer a range of techniques and sources of help, adapting their approach to the particular needs of each client.

All the therapists on this site have trained either through a training institute program of many years duration, or an academic degree with specialty training, or through a combination of one-to-one apprenticeship learning (the original formula for therapists) and other academic experiences. Such trainings take about seven to ten years on average.
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Do psychotherapists have personal therapy experience?

Our members believe that they have to "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk".

All of us undertook long training therapies ourselves in order to understand our own life issues. The value of this personal work is that we are able to understand the difference between our own emotional world and yours.

This means we are able to appreciate the choices you have made, and continue to make, without judging you negatively. We are fully aware of the challenge that life poses to us all.
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What is psychology?

Psychology has many branches. Human psychology is the study of people in terms of how they think, act, react and interact. It is concerned with all aspects of behaviour and the thoughts, feelings and motivation underlying such behaviour. It is a discipline that is primarily concerned with the normal functioning of the mind, exploring areas such as learning, remembering and the normal psychological development of children.

Clinical Psychologists in Ontario have earned a doctoral level degree requiring on average nine years after high school.

Clinical Psychologists may specialize or obtain further training is psychotherapy, but they are not required as part of their training to undergo their own personal psychotherapy process.
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What is psychiatry?

Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders and their diagnosis, management and prevention. Psychiatrists in Ontario have a general medical degree and then train in psychiatry as a specialty. This takes twelve years after high school.

Psychiatrists may specialize in psychotherapy. They are not required as part of their training to undergo their own personal psychotherapy process.

Psychiatry tries to help mostly by using medications and tends to focus on mind biochemistry, usually precribing medication.
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What about licensing?

Psychotherapy is not yet a uniformly regulated or licensed profession across Canada.

This means you should be using some common sense when choosing a therapist.

In Ontario it is likely that a College of Psychotherapy will be created by Bill 171, which has passed second reading in the legislature, because all the political parties support such a change.

This bill is likely to limit the use of the title 'psychotherapist' only to trained professionals like the members of this site. It will also define the scope of psychotherapeutic practice, set up training standards for the future, and provide a complaints procedure independent of any professional organization of any professional association or private training institute.

Therapy Canada supports such legislation as a way of ensuring the public is professionally served by competent therapists, and that harm is avoided thereby.

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How can I use my common sense in choosing a psychotherapist?

Even if there were already unform regulation of psychotherapy in Canada, you would still need to exercise your common sense when choosing a therapist.

When you are choosing a therapist, you should be looking for a therapist who is serious about the nature of the work and has proven their interest in this demanding profession by:

  • Taking a formal training that lasts at least four years
  • Taking personal therapy and also preferably group therapy
  • Continues their own therapy as a part of their own professional development even when working with clients
  • Continuing their own formal therapy training after graduation
  • Is a member of a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of psychotherapy training and practice standards
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What is psychodynamic psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a non-medical approach that borrows from the analytic tradition but is not limited to a single method of creating change.

The common aspects of the psychodynamic approach include several things that many people tend to ignore as meaningless.

Dreams, verbal mistakes, and unexpected errors like forgetting an appointment or arriving too late to deal with very pressing things are often ways in which our inner mind attempts to draw the attention of our full consciousnesses to the needs we have in our lives. Each of us seems to have patterns of behaviour of which we are only dimly conscious, and we may come into therapy with the feeling that we are not quite in control but simply cannot state why that is so.

All the practitioners on this site have been trained in psychodynamic therapy.
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