The focus is generally on changing ineffective thoughts, emotions or behaviors. Most therapy focuses on individuals, although psychotherapists also work with couples, families and groups.
We know that the alliance between the therapist and the client is a very important factor in treatment outcomes. Certainly the very first step is to verify that the therapist you choose is professionally trained and licensed by a professional board for independent practice. After that, you want to be sure that there is a good relationship fit with the therapist. The therapy relationship is a purposeful collaborative relationship between a therapist and the client – what we call the therapeutic alliance – and is related to therapeutic progress. This relationship holds for all types of therapy. The therapeutic alliance is critical even in medication treatments for mental disorders. It is important that you have confidence in your therapist and believe in his or her approach. It may take some time to fully understand your psychotherapist’s recommendations so do not hesitate to ask questions. The most important aspect of effective therapy is that the client and the therapist work together to help the client reach his or her goals in therapy.
Your psychologist may recommend a more hands-on approach to treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy or behavior modification. These treatment methods often involve homework or specific tasks designed to help you develop more effective coping skills. In other approaches such as psychodynamic, humanistic or psychoanalytic therapy, you may talk about your early experiences to provide a better understanding of the root causes of problems that are affecting you now.