What Are Some Factors of Individual Psychotherapy That Promote Change?

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk” therapy, gives us a chance to work with a licensed therapist while uncovering some of the pieces of our lives that have affected us the most. It is through psychotherapy that often we gain new insight or tools to help guide us on our journey to healing, restoration, and recovery. Psychotherapy often involves both individual and group components, so that a person can receive support in various formats. Individual therapy is a unique type of environment because it involves building trust, being vulnerable, and willingness to explore deeper thoughts and feelings that may have hid themselves from our surface. Most importantly, psychotherapy is a facilitator of change. What we discover and discuss helps us to learn and grow, ultimately propelling us into managing our lives in healthier ways than perhaps we were before.

Change does not occur easily in psychotherapy, however, as there are many factors that must take place. A 2014 study published in the journal Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy sought to explore factors that promote change in psychotherapy by assessing 457 individuals. Questionnaires were conducted regarding their therapy process, therapist ratings, and more. The following factors were considered important from the patient’s perspective:

  • In-session impact – feeling as though the therapist got a good understanding of the individual and was able to really listen to their experiences as well as being able to clearly identify their therapists’ motives for the sessions
  • Confident collaboration – feeling confident that therapy will help them make the changes they’d like to implement, feeling clearer about moving forward in recovery
  • Global alliance – mutually agreeing to work upon goals, agreeing upon activities that could benefit the patient, and sharing views on what the real problems are

While these were some of the factors that promoted growth for many patients, there were a few factors that held them back in therapy:

  • Fear – fears of being judged by their therapist, being unable to open up to them
  • Therapist interference – being pushed too far by the therapist, with no desire to continue on certain topics

When you enter psychotherapy, you are essentially entering a professional relationship in which it will take some time to understand one another to work more efficiently together. When a great relationship develops, however, psychotherapy can truly be life changing.

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