To the uninitiated, psychotherapy, psychology, life coaching, therapy and counselling are all one and the same. And it’s an easy mistake to make: there are some similarities between the disciplines, and the general idea behind all of them is to use some form of scientific or research-backed technique to improve your wellbeing or guide you towards resolving issues you are facing.

However, there are some clear and important differences between the disciplines that shouldn’t be overlooked. We’re here to answer the question: what actually is psychotherapy?

What psychotherapy is

Fundamentally, psychotherapy is a form of talking therapy. Whether that’s face-to-face or online, on your own or with your partner or family, psychotherapy involves talking first and foremost.

A psychotherapist facilitates conversation, with the goal of you gaining a deeper insight into your emotions (in individual therapy) or the emotions of those around you (in family or couples therapy). Understanding emotions empowers you to resolve issues you are facing in your life – and a psychotherapist guides you towards understanding the connections between your feelings and your actions.

Psychotherapy is based in science

A qualified psychotherapist trains for a number of years in the discipline, exploring decades of psychological research and scientific grounding to deeply understand how the human brain works.

Within psychotherapy itself, there are a number of specialisms – meaning it’s important to find a psychotherapist whose background is best suited for your individual needs. At The Summit Clinic, our focus is on Jungian Psychoanalysis, Brief-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and a range of contemporary Cognitive Behavioural treatments and other short-term treatments, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Grounded in the philosophies and research of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist working in the early 1900s, Jungian therapy is an in-depth and highly analytical form of psychotherapy, aimed at bringing an understanding of the interactions between your conscious and subconscious mind. Instead of focusing on the manifestation of problems in your day-to-day life, Jungian therapy instead delves deeper into your core emotions and feelings, with the aim of bringing an understanding of your unconscious in order to facilitate recovery (from trauma, for example) and progress in your life.  

Brief-term psychotherapies integrate contemporary psychodynamic therapy with the characteristic of the short-term approach, enabling those with a wish to delve deeper to do so in a short-term model.

Psychotherapy is effective

With consistent commitment, psychotherapy can be a highly effective tool for people suffering the effects of trauma, depression, anxiety or other psychological issues. As we’ve seen, psychotherapy dives deeply into the subconscious mind and for it to be truly effective there must be a commitment from the patient and psychotherapist that intense work may need to be done.

Often, our first instinct is to choose the easy, pharmaceutical option, expecting fast results with little effort. However, there is plenty of research to suggest that psychotherapy, while a longer-term commitment, can be far more effective than taking medication, particularly for individuals suffering the effects of a traumatic experience. In fact, research has shown that the impact of psychotherapy is much longer-lasting than pharmaceuticals, and is much less likely to produce negative side-effects.

With a commitment to possibly difficult and intense personal work, psychotherapy is hugely effective at treating psychological conditions, either on its own or combined with prescribed medications.

Psychotherapy is protected

Unlike life coaching or general counselling, clinical psychology and psychotherapy are protected. Due to the amount and depth of knowledge a psychotherapist requires for effective and ethical practice, there are a number of professional bodies around the world that regulate the steps a psychotherapist or clinical psychologist must undertake before being able to call themselves a clinical psychologist.

In the UK, the HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) regulates the term ‘clinical psychologist’ by enforcing a number of requirements on practitioners. By registering with the HCPC, as our therapists are, psychotherapists and clinical psychologists commit to a number of standards, including standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

What psychotherapy is not

Psychotherapy is not a quick-fix or a way of handing over responsibility for your choices and behaviours to a third party. Psychotherapy does not give you all the answers to your life’s problems: it doesn’t coach you, or mentor you, or help you plan your life. What it does do is help you to understand why you behave the way you do, why you’ve made the choices you’ve made, and what changes you can make in your conscious and subconscious mind to overcome the issues you’re experiencing.

Psychotherapy is not a one-off. A single session of psychotherapy will not solve all your problems. Psychotherapy cannot be treated as a power-hour or a mentorship; it’s a longer-term commitment to self-improvement and putting in the work to get long-term results.

How does psychotherapy work?

If you think psychotherapy could help you, you’ve come to the right place. At The Summit Clinic, we specialise in Jungian psychoanalysis and clinical psychology, allowing us to help our patients reconnect with their subconscious and make lasting and impactful improvements to their lives.

When you get in touch with us, we’ll have an initial chat with you to explore a little more about what you’re hoping to get from psychotherapy. If we feel like we can help you and we’re the right fit for you, we’ll book in a psychotherapy session and begin to dive deeper into your issues. If we don’t feel like we’re best-placed to help you, we’ll do our best to recommend alternative support, referring you elsewhere wherever possible.

If you’re ready to make long-lasting changes through psychotherapy, we’re looking forward to hearing from you.