What is psychotherapy? Who is the treatment suitable for?
In short: Psychotherapy is needed by people whose quality of life is restricted by certain thoughts or feelings. But what exactly is psychotherapy?
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy means treating the soul. It is therefore used for mental illnesses or mental disorders in adults, children and adolescents. Disturbances in social relationships, behavior and psychologically-related physical complaints can also be addressed with psychotherapy. It is treated with psychological means, procedures and methods.
If you are suffering from depression or are plagued by anxiety, addiction or other ailments, please seek help. The first point of contact is your family doctor.
What methods do psychotherapists use?
The list of non-drug treatments, methods and procedures used in psychotherapy is long. Below are a few examples:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (also called CBT, means working on the way we think)
- gestalt therapy
- art therapy
- music therapy
- Cognitive Psychotherapy
- hypnotic psychotherapy
- systemic therapy (to work on social structures and connections)
- relaxation procedures
- mindfulness exercises
- family constellations
Psychotherapy can take place on an outpatient basis or, in severe cases, as an inpatient in a clinic. However, psychotherapists are not allowed to prescribe or use drugs because they have no basic medical training. (The exception: if a doctor is doing further training to become a psychotherapist.)
Who can do psychotherapy?
The profession of “psychological psychotherapist” is legally protected in Germany. Only someone who studies psychology and has subsequently obtained approval under the Psychotherapist Act (PsychThG) may call themselves that. (Alternatively, a doctor with the appropriate additional training may also call himself that. In this case, however, he or she calls himself a “medical psychotherapist”.)
When do you do psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is appropriate when a person’s quality of life is severely limited by their thoughts, feelings or behavior. The restriction can show up in bad mood, helplessness, being overwhelmed, loss of motivation, insomnia or lack of concentration. This is the case, for example, if you suffer from depression, compulsions, burnout, mental crises, anxiety disorders or addiction (drug addiction or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia).
Anyone who does not know whether psychotherapy would be an option for him or her can find help and advice from their family doctor!
What does a psychotherapist do with depression?
If a patient with depression comes to the psychotherapist, he or she will develop strategies together with the person concerned to treat the depression, support him or her in dealing with it better and help with targeted methods to prevent relapses. This includes intensive discussions and often also behavioral exercises.
Can a psychotherapist give me sick leave?
Psychological psychotherapists have no medical training. Therefore, they are not allowed to perform any medical activities, treat them with medication or write patients off sick. (The situation is different for a medical psychotherapist: since he or she has medical training, he or she may prescribe medicines or refer patients to a clinic, for example.)
How long does a therapy session last?
A single session with a psychotherapist usually lasts 50 minutes. At least in individual therapy. In group therapy or other forms of therapy, the times can vary and last from around 25 to 90 minutes.
How often do I have to go to psychotherapy?
Most psychotherapies take place once or twice a week. However, the decisive factor for the frequency is the individual case. How many sessions you need also depends on the individual consideration. Behavioral therapy, for example, is available as short-term therapy for as little as 25 hours. A number of 60 hours or more is also not uncommon.
Psychologist, psychotherapist and psychiatrist: What is the difference?
psychologists are people who have studied psychology. They are primarily scientists. The degree does not yet qualify her to treat patients. Only after several years of further training as a psychological psychotherapist is the psychologist allowed to provide therapy. (Some psychologists become self-employed after studying psychology. They coach or advise. However, they are not allowed to call themselves psychotherapists.)
psychiatrists have studied medicine. In order to work as a medical psychotherapist, a psychiatrist must have completed training as a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy after completing their studies. As a medical psychotherapist, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication (e.g. psychotropic drugs or antidepressants), take sick leave or refer patients to a clinic.
psychotherapists have studied psychology and after their studies completed several years of additional training on the basis of the Psychotherapist Act. A psychological psychotherapist may not prescribe medication. He or she may “only” use therapeutic talks and methods.
Is psychotherapy paid for by health insurance?
The treatment of mental illnesses by a medical or psychological psychotherapist is covered by health insurance if a psychiatrist or medical psychotherapist or psychological psychotherapist has previously made a diagnosis. (The psychotherapist needs an additional qualification for the health insurance billing of a treatment of children and adolescents. Therefore not everyone offers it.)
You can also pay for a treatment yourself. The costs are usually between 50 and 150 euros.