705.230.5585 therapy@andrewjobes.ca

“So, what the heck is psychotherapy, anyway?”

The short (and oversimplified) answer is, “talk therapy.”

And here’s the longer one…

A Definition…

This excerpt from the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) website provides an excellent starting point:

“Psychotherapy is primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being. Registered Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families in individual and group settings.

Psychotherapy occurs when the Registered Psychotherapist (RP) and client enter into a psychotherapeutic relationship where both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.”

Psychotherapy is regulated under the Psychotherapy Act in Ontario. We aren’t allowed to call ourselves Psychotherapists or perform “the controlled act of Psychotherapy” unless we’ve met certain educational and experiential requirements, are insured, and are registered with the CRPO, all of which is intended to protect you, the client.

The “Controlled Act of Psychotherapy?!?!?”

Yup. It’s confusing. Ontario’s Psychotherapy Act defines this as (bullets added to break it down):

  • “the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances
  • by psychotherapeutic means,
  • delivered through a therapeutic relationship
  • based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.”

The line between that and what might considered “uncontrolled,” or, more accurately, unregulated, is blurry. It’s safer for you and for a coach or counsellor to go to a psychotherapist if you’re dealing with complex challenges (see my blog post “Psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist… What the heck’s the difference?” if you’d like some clarifications on that.)

“What kind of therapy do you do?”

This is a common question. There are over 400 theoretical frameworks for describing the causes of, and treatments for, mental health conditions. Some of these have become better known than others, such as Cognitive-Behavioural (CBT), Dialectical-Behavioural (DBT), and Psychoanalytical (think Jung or Freud) therapies.

The better-known approaches are often that because they:

  • work well for their intended use (e.g., CBT for insomnia),
  • are often manualized and efficient (e.g., a 6-week CBT session for treating insomnia will follow a specific agenda and be the same for all clients who receive it), and
  • are well-studied (scientific inquiry doesn’t “handle” variability well, so manualized approaches lend themselves to study).

It’s important to note here that a lack of empirical evidence demonstrating that a specific approach works doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t work… while it’s possible that it doesn’t work, it’s also possible that it hasn’t been studied well enough (or at all) to make conclusions about its effectiveness.

It used to be that most therapists practiced a specific type of therapy (e.g., “I’m a Jungian Psychoanalyst.”). While some still do today, many now embrace multiple frameworks, with some describing themselves as “eclectic” or “integrative,” and draw perspectives and treatment approaches from multiple frameworks to develop individualized treatment plans.

As per the CRPO’s definition above, some psychotherapeutic treatments may include non-talk work, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Experiencing, and breathwork.

Hope that helps. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you or someone you care about could use some support.