Therapy vs Psychotherapy: What is the difference?

'Whatever it takes' message in a board. Photo by Jon Tyson

Therapy vs Psychotherapy: What is the difference?

Therapy and psychotherapy are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between the two. Having a clear understanding of the differences between these two options can help you to select the right type of treatment, and ensure you get access to the support you need.

We took a closer look at the concepts of therapy vs. psychotherapy to better understand the differences between the two, so that we can help you to establish which one is best suited for your mental health needs.

What is therapy?

A term commonly used to cover all manner of psychological treatments and solutions, therapy is a form of treatment for various mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Therapy tends to focus on helping individuals understand their thoughts and feelings, so that they can develop healthier coping skills and come up with strategies to help with this. Therapy can also help individuals gain insight into the underlying causes of their mental health issues, and provide guidance as they work towards personal or professional goals.

In most cases, therapy is typically conducted with a licensed therapist in a one-on-one setting, but it can also be done in group settings - some patients find this support very helpful. The number of sessions and duration of therapy may vary depending on the individual’s needs.

Types of therapy

There are many different types of therapy, and the best choice for you will depend largely on your unique circumstances and issues. The most common types of therapy include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), exposure therapy, and interpersonal therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also known as CBT, is a type of therapy that focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It helps individuals identify distorted or unhelpful thought patterns that can lead to unhealthy behaviours and increase stress.

  • Dialectical behaviour therapy

Dialectical behaviour therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioural therapy designed to teach individuals how to better manage their emotions, so that they can reduce stress and improve relationships. It focuses on understanding the underlying causes of behaviours and helping individuals develop coping skills to better handle difficult emotions.

  • Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of behaviour therapy that helps individuals cope with anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This type of therapy involves gradually exposing an individual to the fear or trauma they are trying to overcome, the aim being to help reduce their fear response.

  • Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on understanding and improving an individual’s relationships with others. It helps individuals develop better communication skills, identify and address interpersonal conflicts, and learn how to regulate emotions in difficult situations.

What is psychotherapy?

While therapy focuses on helping individuals understand and work through their immediate mental health issues, psychotherapy typically takes a deeper look into the underlying causes of those issues. It is a type of treatment that helps individuals explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in order to gain insight into how they can make positive changes in their life to move past their issues.

The key difference is that psychotherapists will typically take a more holistic approach than therapists, and may be used to address ongoing conditions. While therapists focus on helping individuals work through their current challenges, psychotherapists look at the client’s overall mental health and explore how past experiences may be impacting current behaviour.

Types of psychotherapy

Many psychotherapists will make use of the same therapy tools seen above, including CBT and interpersonal therapy, but may also offer combined treatment, or options including:

  • Psychoanalysis

This is an approach that helps individuals gain insight into their unconscious motivations and develop a better understanding of themselves, making it easier to see where the issues develop from, and to move forward with treatment.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy

This is an approach that focuses closely on understanding the underlying causes of an individual’s mental health issues. It helps individuals explore their past experiences and how they are impacting their current behaviour, and make appropriate changes to move forward.

What is the difference between therapy and psychotherapy?

The terms “therapy” and “psychotherapy” are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences between them, and these include:

  • The focus

One of the key differences between therapy and psychotherapy is the focus. While therapy focuses on helping individuals work through their immediate mental health issues, psychotherapy takes a deeper look into the underlying causes of those issues.

  • The approach

Another difference between these two types of treatment is the approach taken by therapists and psychotherapists. Therapists will often take a more focused approach to helping individuals address their immediate concerns, while psychotherapists take a more holistic approach that looks at the individual’s overall mental health.

  • The duration

Another difference between therapy and psychotherapy is the length of time each type of treatment may take. Therapy sessions tend to be shorter, with an individual typically attending a few sessions over a period of weeks or months. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is often long-term and can involve many months or even years of treatment.

  • The practitioner

Finally, the type of practitioner conducting the treatment is another key difference. Therapists are often mental health professionals such as psychologists or counsellors, while psychotherapists may have a range of specialised qualifications and training.

Your next steps

If you are looking for help with a mental health issue, it is important to understand the differences between therapy and psychotherapy. It is also important to choose a practitioner who is qualified and experienced in the type of treatment you need. With the right professional support, you can make positive changes in your life.

By taking a look on the Internet for the most suitable mental health services near you, you can get ready to take your first steps to wellness. If, on the other hand, you are a mental health professional, we can offer you a counselling room to rent here at A Room in Town, so that you can provide the right services from the right location for your clients.

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