Why, when, and how to seek psychotherapy?

Aino Juusola

There are many options for seeking support with mental health challenges. It can be tricky to figure out which type of help is the right fit. There are different therapy approaches and sessions of varying lengths to consider. Distinguishing between psychotherapy and other forms of psychosocial support can be somewhat challenging.

However, a crucial difference lies in the fact that only professionals who have been authorized by Valvira and undergone adequate training can offer psychotherapy. You can confirm a therapist’s authorization to use the title of psychotherapist through the JulkiTerhikki database.

Psychotherapy is often sought when challenges are enduring and significant, aiming to provide a treatment approach that is sufficiently long, goal-oriented, supportive, and effective, tailored to your specific needs.

“Did you know that psychotherapy comes in both long-term and short-term forms, with the latter being referred to as short-term psychotherapy?”

Why psychotherapy?

The primary goal of psychotherapy is to alleviate your psychological challenges and the suffering they cause. Its aim is to enhance your everyday functioning so that your psychological struggles don’t limit your daily life or hinder your ability to live according to your values. It’s about living a life that aligns with your values.

Additionally, psychotherapy aims to support increased self-awareness, understanding of the roots of your psychological challenges, and recognition of harmful thought and behavior patterns that sustain them. Overall, psychotherapy aims to support your psychological growth and development, enhance your problem-solving skills, and help you find effective ways to navigate your relationships.

When and how does therapy make a difference?

Research extensively explores the effects of psychotherapy, examining various therapeutic approaches. However, what consistently emerges as a crucial factor, regardless of the therapy method, is the quality of the therapeutic relationship or alliance between the therapist and the client.

In a positive therapeutic bond, you, as the client, can feel like:

  • The therapist truly comprehends your struggles.
  • Both you and the therapist share a clear understanding of the therapy’s focus.
  • You’ve collaboratively set goals for the therapy.
  • The therapist shows genuine empathy.
  • The therapeutic relationship is built on trust, openness, and mutual understanding.

Therefore, it’s important to select a therapist not only for their expertise but also based on how comfortable you feel in the therapeutic relationship. Additionally, the therapist’s readiness for therapy, including their commitment to the process, support from their personal network, and their motivation for therapeutic work, are considered crucial for the success of therapy. Psychotherapy demands intensive effort and requires you to dedicate sufficient time to it in your life.

How does therapy work and progress?

Therapy involves various stages – all tailored to your needs. Typically, it starts with assessing your situation and setting goals.

In the initial sessions, your therapist will explore your challenges, gather background information, and define the goals together with you. These goals are regularly reviewed throughout therapy. If you’re undergoing psychotherapy supported by KELA, your therapist will assess progress and well-being at the end of each therapy year.

“At the start of therapy, it’s crucial to create an environment where both parties can get to know each other and establish trust.”

“At the beginning of therapy, it’s important to allow space and time for mutual acquaintance and trust-building. As a client, you gain insight into the therapist’s working methods, and the therapist, in turn, gets to know you and can adapt the work accordingly to your preferences. In therapy, one or two smaller goals may initially be selected to work towards. Additionally, there may be an overarching goal that guides the process, with various sub-goals addressed along the way.”

What do you do in therapy?

In therapy, we delve into your past and how it shapes your present challenges, thoughts, behaviors, and relationships. The therapist offers tools to help you understand and navigate these complexities.

It’s crucial in therapy that you feel comfortable expressing your struggles and emotions, knowing you’ll be fully accepted. The therapeutic bond also serves as a safe space to practice new ways of relating and communicating, exploring fears, and expressing needs.

Your therapist may introduce exercises to challenge unhelpful thoughts or behaviors and guide you through activities to process and heal from difficult emotions and experiences. The approach and exercises vary depending on the therapist and the type of therapy.

The therapy process is like peeling layers of an onion, gradually and safely approaching deeper self-understanding and core issues, one step at a time.

Overall, psychotherapy is a journey of self-discovery that requires courage, openness, and bravery to confront even the most painful emotions, memories, and beliefs. The process can be likened to peeling an onion, where, step by step, you approach deeper self-understanding and your core. However, your psychotherapist accompanies you throughout the entire journey, providing strong support, encouragement, and belief in your ability to change, while also guiding you with small steps.

The goal of psychotherapy is to help you find your own wings, gradually enabling you to carry more. The aim is not to completely eliminate challenges but to deepen self-understanding, explore the roots of your actions, and thereby increase self-compassion. Through this process, psychotherapy facilitates change and the discovery of new, more well-serving patterns of behavior.

Old patterns and pains never completely disappear, but psychotherapy offers the opportunity to influence how strongly they affect and guide us. Each person embarking on this journey is courageous, and although the path may be difficult and painful at times, it is also often rewarding. The goal is to enable a life and well-being aligned with the client’s values.

We gathered a few important points for you:

What is psychoterapy?

  • Psychotherapy is something people seek when they’re dealing with tough and long-lasting issues. It’s a kind of therapy where you work closely with a therapist to tackle your problems in a supportive and focused way.
  • Think of psychotherapy like a journey of self-discovery. It takes courage to face difficult feelings and memories, but through therapy, you get to understand yourself better, like peeling layers off an onion. Your therapist is there to support you every step of the way, believing in your ability to change and offering guidance.
  • Psychotherapy can be long-term, lasting a few years, or short-term, lasting just a few sessions. The shorter option is often quicker and easier to access and is good for dealing with less severe issues.

Get to know the author of this article

Hello! I am Aino Juusola, the lead psychotherapist, psychologist, and author at Heltti. I specialize in trauma therapy as a cognitive psychotherapist (CPT). With extensive work experience including forensic psychology and themes related to experiences of sexual violence, I also serve as a TF-CBT supervisor and trainer.