Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to increase each individual’s well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts or emotions, and to improve relationships and social functioning.

What are the limitations of psychotherapy?

LCSWs should not tell you what to do or try to direct your life—relatable to the proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life.” Therapists will help you learn to solve your own problems, rather than solving them for you.

Some mental health issues cannot be managed by psychotherapy alone. If medication is recommended, it’s probably important.

Benefiting from psychotherapy does require work on your part. Speaking to a therapist for an hour a week, and then pushing it out of your mind, probably won’t do you any good. Complete homework, practice your skills, and legitimately try the recommendations you are given.

Therapists cannot be your friend after starting a therapeutic relationship. LCSWs generally like their clients, and would love to get to know them better, but ethical rules prevent the formation of relationships outside of treatment. Therapists cannot read your mind. If you hide information, or are dishonest, you’re wasting your own time and money.

There are many approaches to psychotherapy, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some situations call for a specific type of treatment, but sometimes it’s just about preference.

Common Types of Psychotherapy:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and well-supported treatment for many types of mental health issues. The theory is based on the idea that a person’s thoughts influence their feelings, which the individual can learn to control.

Motivational Interviewing

Although typically used for the treatment of addictions, motivational interviewing is an intervention that can be used to help any person who wants to make changes in their life. When it comes to addiction, motivational interviewing has some of the best support.

Person-Centered Therapy

A person-centered therapist will focus on building a strong positive relationship with their client while providing an empathetic ear. The therapist will help the client find areas where the client’s ideal self and actual self differ, and then encourage change or acceptance.


The traditional image of a bushy-bearded psychotherapist with a couch and a notebook is based on early psychoanalysis. Although this form of treatment has become less popular, it can still be found. Psychoanalysis focuses on childhood experiences and unconscious drives.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal ideation and substance abuse.[1] This approach works toward helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states. It can help a client assess which coping skills to apply in a sequence of events or when experiencing certain thoughts, feelings and behaviors to help avoid undesired reactions.

DBT assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with their ability to function appropriately.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is a form of counseling or psychotherapy that uses play to communicate with and help people, especially children, to prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges. This is thought to help them towards better social integration, growth and development, emotional modulation and trauma resolution.