“Knowing your true self is the greatest achievement you can obtain” Deepak Chopra
Psychotherapy is the treatment of emotional distress by Psychological means. Counselling is “providing guidance in resolving personal and psychological problems” (Oxford dictionary).
Having someone to listen non-judgmentally with compassion and empathy can improve emotional well-being. The world at the moment is quite judgemental and critical at times. Having a safe space to go to, where you can develop trust with a therapist, can give a person the breathing space to express their emotions, work through certain issues and come to some resolution. If an issue is unresolved that has caused deep hurt, it can continue to fester on a sub-conscious and conscious level. It may seem to be resolved, but certain things can trigger memories or make a person aware that the issue is still causing some distress.
The therapist may need to work with clients that are culturally different and to be aware of those differences. Therapy should be relatively non-directive. It can help the client develop self-awareness and a better understanding of themselves. It allows them to change specific aspects of their feelings, thoughts and behaviour that may not be serving them well. It can also help a person clarify some issues and make decisions. They may feel blocked or stuck. People have the capacity to understand their problems and the resources to resolve them. But sometimes they may need help realising that.
The therapist needs to be able to listen to verbal and non-verbal messages and their contexts. Confidentiality, genuineness and respect is also important. As well as identifying and exploring defense mechanisms.
If people can sort out some of their issues it is possible to live a more fulfilling, satisfying and productive life that has more purpose and meaning. Various areas can be worked with e.g. grief and addiction. There are different schools of therapy e.g. Gestalt, Regression etc. Different types of therapy are suited to different people.
The therapist would need to be comfortable with certain experiences and have a good understanding of them e.g. Hearing voices. To be able to help a person in ‘psychosis’ would require specialized training. The person in distress can be quite perceptive, even when they seem “out of it”. Family therapy may also be needed. If there is turmoil in a family this should happen early on before relationships break down or become more dysfunctional.
The person themselves is the true expert on their own experiences. Therapy helps a person make sense of their experiences and gives them personal responsibility for their own recovery. A psychological formulation process and the idea of personal narratives can facilitate the person in making sense of their experience .
This is a quote from a man I know who has a diagnosis of Bipolar and is benefiting from therapy ~
“we all carry life baggage, some of which we want to unpack, discuss, possibly even move on from. I think Psychotherapy gives me that space. I engage with it for that reason. Therapy is empowering, if you feel your family or community are not listening. It’s a gradual process for me, as much on my terms as that of the therapist”.
From another perspective “It is possible for therapy to do harm as well as good. It can be difficult to talk about painful issues. Sometimes people receive incompetent or inadequate therapy” [2, 3] There are regulatory bodies that set guidelines e.g. the IACP (Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) .
This quote is from a mother who lost her son tragically by suicide. He was only 17 years old and on an anti-depressant. “I think that the practice of many counsellors which involves pathologising grief is harmful and that, along with outdated notions of the need to sever attachment with the deceased, is the cause of harm. Exceptions would include counsellors or therapists who employ methods such as those of Dr. Joanne Cacciatore whose processes and understandings I have found personally helpful”. Joanne Cacciatore therapeutic interventions include narrative, dialectical and logo therapies, in addition to trauma focused therapies 
A Psycho-social approach to healing can help empower the person, develop emotional resilience and allow them to be a better and more content member of their family, community and society. The overuse of certain drugs e.g. major tranquilizers, can be disempowering and disabling. In the long run the Psycho-social approach can be more effective. That usually requires ongoing holistic work by the person on their physical and emotional well-being.
CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)
The biochemistry of the brain is influenced by our thoughts so we need to stay aware of our thought patterns. Negative self talk affects our mood. Techniques used in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can help change negative thought patterns into more positive ones. The Feeling Good Handbook has exercises that can allow the person work on CBT in their own time .
Life coaching helps draw out from within a person what they would like to achieve in life. We have the answers to problems and difficulties within ourselves. Techniques and tools are used to bring solutions to light. Good coaching has a lot to do with knowing the right questions to ask. Obstacles, challenges, self-limiting beliefs and behaviour can be identified and overcome. It helps people set goals and time frames for achieving those goals. The coach has to park their own life experience and only occasionally gives advice.
Life can seem frightening and daunting for a person who has been through trauma and emotional distress. A person can become stuck in a rut. Life coaching can help them take more control over their lives, feel empowered and find purpose in life. Areas that people may need help with include motivation, structure and self-discipline.
Part of the process of life coaching involves listening intently to the person, with dignity and respect, in a non-judgemental way. And sometimes summarising and reflecting back to the person so that they gain a better self-understanding. People can have blind spots. Aspects of themselves that they may be unaware of but that may be obvious to others.
The individual can discover areas of their lives that are out of balance. Some balance in life can be restored, leading to a more fulfilling, satisfying and effective life. Coaching has the potential to help a person create a vision for their future and support in turning that vision into reality.
* Will add some more later about my own experience in therapy.
 Good Practice Guidelines on the use of Psychological formulation ~
 Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia ~
 When therapy causes harm ~
 Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy ~ www.iacp.ie
 Joanne Cacciatore and the MISS Foundation that helps grieving families ~
 The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, 1999
Dr Michael Corry at 19 mins discusses the lack of training of Psychiatrists in the area of therapy ~ www.theenchantingvalley.ning.com/video/dr-michael-corry
Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Can Put You in Control by Scott Spradlin, 2003 ~
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
The Efficacy of Play Therapy With Children: A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment Outcomes
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel van der Kolk, 2015 ~
The lifelong cost of burying our traumatic experiences ~
In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
By Peter Levine, 2010 ~
Peter Levine Demonstrates How Trauma Sticks in the Body ~
Conversation with Alanis Morissette & Dr. Peter Levine (includes discussion on Panic Attacks) ~
Music and Madness by Ivor Browne, 2008 (see Chapter on “The Frozen Present”) ~
8 Tips to Help Stop Ruminating ~
“The Power of your subconscious mind” by Joseph Murphy ~
A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis by Lucy Johnstone ~
My review of this book ~
Family therapy “is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that helps family members improve communication and resolve conflicts” www.mayoclinic.org
“Family systems therapy draws on systems thinking in its view of the family as an emotional unit. When systems thinking—which evaluates the parts of a system in relation to the whole—is applied to families, it suggests behavior is both often informed by and inseparable from the functioning of one’s family of origin”
Logotherapy “was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. … Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans” (Wikipedia).
Psychosocial relating to the interrelation of social factors and individual thought and behaviour.