What does a psychotherapist do?

Psychotherapists talk to patients one-on-one.

Mental health professionals often specialize in certain types of therapeutic services, from personal counseling to behavior modification and supervised drug therapy. A psychotherapist has a psychological and psychiatric background, but tends to focus on the counseling and behavior modification aspects when it comes to treating clients. A psychotherapist often acts as a guide and mentor as the client deals with stressful or self-limiting personal issues.

A psychotherapist can help a patient deal with grief.

One of the main tools that a psychotherapist would use is psychotherapy. During a session, a psychotherapist encourages her client to express any concerns, fears, traumatic memories, or other thoughts without fear of public exposure or judgment. The psychotherapist may allow the client to speak throughout the session as a cathartic exercise, or may ask specific questions to help the client explore a specific subject. The purpose of a “talking cure” is not for the psychotherapist to force a solution on the client, but to provide a safe environment in which the client can examine their problems with the help of an objective counselor.

Psychotherapists can help resolve anger issues and prevent future violence.

In addition to one-on-one talk therapy, a psychotherapist can act as a guide for group therapy sessions. Each member of a group session is free to express their thoughts and react to other members, but a trained psychotherapist will try to keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand and ensure that individual members are treated fairly.

Behavior modification is another mental health service usually provided by a psychotherapist. Helping clients deal with important issues such as grief, anger management, and addictive behaviors requires a mental health professional familiar with counseling and drug therapy approaches. While a psychotherapist generally prefers in-person counseling and talk sessions to drug regimens, he or she is familiar enough with medical psychiatry to make recommendations or referrals to clients who need additional help.

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Many psychotherapists specialize in helping the elderly.

A psychotherapist may work in a private practice and see clients through consultation only, or they may work in a clinical setting and remain on call for consultations and emergency interventions. Many psychotherapists specialize in certain age groups, such as teenagers or the elderly. Others specialize in services such as marital counseling, sexual disorders, and addictive behaviors.

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