Who needs therapy?
Why do it?
The value of psychotherapy generally has been supported by research that indicates that people experiencing emotional or relational pain and dysfunction who engaged in psychotherapeutic treatment were 80% better off than those who did not (Assay & Lambert, 1999; Duncan, Miller, Wampold, & Hubble, 2010; Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2004).
What is psychotherapy
Describing counselling and psychotherapy with any precision is problematic since they are understood in multiple ways (Corsinie & Wedding, cited in Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2004). However, they might best be defined as professional, interpersonal practices that support clients to make beneficial change in their lives by encouraging them to gain awareness of how they interact in the therapeutic relationship and within their world (Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, n.d.). Fritz Perls suggests that the aim of psychotherapy is “to help [people] arrive at self-knowledge, satisfaction and self-support” (Perls, 1973).
Why go to a therapist?
Therapeutic interventions have occurred throughout history. The wise council of friends, family members, religious leaders, shamans, oracles and medical practitioners among others have contributed to and continue to contribute to the wellbeing of others. BUT the advantage of working with a qualified therapist includes that the therapist:
- does not judge you;
- has no personal investment in a particular outcome and therefore can hear you without bias;
- is without the need to pressure you into something that might not be what you want or might not be in your best interest;
- is trained to support you to move toward your goals with greater ease and speed; and,
- the therapeutic situation is confidential, therefore you can be open and honest without fear of your story/issues becoming public;
What does contemporary science say?
Contemporary science, particularly in the field of neuroscience, also supports the notion of psychotherapy as a supportive vehicle for helping clients achieve self-regulation and enriched lives (Cozolino, 2010; Siegel, 1999). While early relationships and experiences shape the structure and function of the brain, interpersonal experiences continue to have influence throughout life (Siegel, 1999). The therapeutic relationship is particularly significant in this regard because interpersonal relationships are the basis for building and rebuilding neural networks in the brain (Doige, 2007). Both neurobiology research and common factors research clearly ratify relational psychotherapy as a significant support for change. Gestalt psychotherapy is one such therapy.
Gestalt therapy is a strand of the humanistic and relational approach to psychotherapy, it involves;
- a sensitive,
- supportive, and
- authentic two way engagement between client and therapist that has the potential of expediting personal discovery and learning (Cain, 2001).
Assay, T. P., & Lambert, M. J. (1999). The empirical case for the common factors in therapy: Quantitative findings. In M. A. Hubble, B. L. Duncan, & S. D. Miller (Eds.), The heart and soul of change: What works in therapy (pp. 23-55). Washington , DC: American Psychological Association.
Cain, D. J. (2001). Defining characteristics, history, and evolution of humanistic psychotherapies. In D. J. Cain, & J. Seeman (Eds.), Humanistic psychotherapies: handbook of research and practice (pp. 3-54). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Cozolino, L. (2010). The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Doige, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself. New York: Penguin Books.
Duncan, B. L., Miller, S. D., Wampold, B. E., & Hubble, M. A. (Eds.). (2010). The heart and soul of change second edition (2nd ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association.
Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. (n.d.). Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia: http://www.pacfa.org.au/resources/cid/41/parent/0/t/resources/l/layout
Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: how relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2004). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Wampold, B. E. (2011). The research evidence for the common factors models: A historically situated perspective. In B. L. Duncan, S. D. Miller, B. E. Wampold, & M. A. Hubble (Eds.), The heart and soul of change: Devlvering what works in therapy (2nd ed., pp. 49-81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.