Psychotherapy is a professional helping process through which an experienced human services worker (therapist) empowers, guides, and collaborates with a person seeking help (client) to implement meaningful change and growth during times of transition, psychological stress, or emotional distress. The therapy process, while somewhat flexible, moves through four major stages: relationship building and assessment, goal setting and contracting, intervention, and termination and follow-up.
The preparation for therapy depends on each therapist's individual preferences. However, typically it is helpful to have intake and insurance forms available for the first session. Additionally, a notebook and pen should always be within reach.
These are the stages a typical psychotherapy moves through:
Stage 1: Relationship-building and Assessment
The positive outcome of psychotherapy depends, to a large extent, on the therapist-client relationship. A therapeutic relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and the belief that the client has the ability to change is crucial for the client to share truthfully about his or her situation.
Once a relationship has been established, the therapist gathers further information and insight about the client's situation using a variety of interviewing skills, as shown in Table 1.
INTERVIEWING SKILLS (this table does not show up correctly on cheathouse!)
Skill of observing Looking for signs to understand what is going on with a client (facial expressions, vocal quality, speech pattern, body posture, gestures, general appearance, eye contact, etc.)
Reaching for information Asking questions (open-ended/ generalized or closed-ended/specific) Paraphrasing and summarizing ÃÂ§ Reaching inside of silence (waiting it out or figuring out what the silence is about)
Reaching for feelings When client's non-verbal behavior suggests presence of feelings, but the verbal does not, or when client does not express any feelings in a situation that generally would evoke feelings
Throughout therapy, active listening is also an...