Definitions // Fred Levin's Psychotherapy Newsletter
- biological approaches to psychotherapy - In contrast to
insight-oriented approaches, biological approaches usually involve (but are
not limited to) the use of medications to deal with mental illness. Some
specialists who favor this approach generally do not also employ
insight-oriented approaches at all; others, however, employ medication
together with insight-oriented approaches to psychotherapy simultaneously.
An example of a biological approach would be if a patient is depressed the
therapist may prescribe antidepressant medication. In some centers, the use
of medication is felt to be sufficient by itself. In other centers, the
medication is merely seen as useful in reducing the intensity of a key
symptom, while creating a "window of opportunity" for learning
during which the patient can come to understand a lot which may reduce the
chances of their becoming depressed again to the same degree. Biological
therapists are almost always M.D.'s who have the training and hence the
privilege to prescribe and monitor medication.
- group psychotherapy - A treatment approach in which the therapist
meets with more than one patient at the same time. In the case of family
(group) psychotherapy the patients will be members of one family. In the
case of couples (group) psychotherapy the patients will be married to each
other. The group therapist discusses with those in the group what they
understand to be their problems, which are usually then understood in terms
of the various relationships within the group. This approach can be
independent of any other psychotherapy, or it may be used to compliment work
done simultaneously individually. Group therapists are not required to but
should have received training in group psychotherapy during a residency or internship
training program connected with a major teaching hospital (that is, one
connected with a medical school).
- individual psychotherapy - A treatment mode for mental illness in
which the psychotherapist meets with a single patient for private sessions.
These sessions usually last 45 minutes, occur once or twice per week, and
involve listening and talking to each other about what is bothering the
patient. Together, the therapist and patient decide what they feel to be the
patient's problems, and what would be the best way to deal with these
matters. Periodically they will assess the effects of their work to decide
if it is accomplishing their treatment goals, and to further focus their
discussions. Individual therapists have usually graduated from a specialty
training program in psychiatry, psychology, or social work.
- insight-oriented psychotherapy - An individual treatment mode for
mental illness that can be used easily along with a variety of other
approaches (biological, family, group, etc.). This involves attempting to
understand the patient as a person, who has various private feelings and
experiences, wishes or motivations, fears, etc. which may be in conflict, or
problematic. Sessions last 45 minutes, and are once or twice per week (the
exception being psychoanalysis, see below) The key idea is that our
emotional development is a result of experiential and genetic (or inbuilt)
factors. It is possible for us to reduce our mental suffering by learning as
much as possible about what creates mental problems in ourselves.
Insight-oriented psychotherapists take the time to work individually with
patients often for longer time periods, and have training in psychiatry,
psychology, or social work. The most intensive kind of such therapy is
- psychoanalysis - This variety of insight-oriented individual
therapy is more intensive than the usual psychotherapy because it most often
involves meeting with a specially trained therapist (called a psychoanalyst)
4 days a week for 3-6 years. Sessions are usually 45 minutes long.
Psychoanalysts have not only undergone a personal psychoanalysis, as part of
their training, but have graduated from an Institute for Psychoanalytic
Training certified by one of the National or International Organizations of
Psychoanalysis. Such specialists are already M.D. or Ph.D. level
specialists. Such treatment can accomplish changes which might not be
possible by any other means. Lost cost psychoanalysis is also available
through the clinics of the various Institutes of the American Psychoanalytic
Association (see links).
- psychotherapy - The general term for treatment approaches to mental
illness. There are a number of varieties which include individual, group,
insight-oriented, supportive, and biological approaches. Most of these terms
are defined above. But the key feature of them all is that they involve some
attempt to understand and alter mental illness. What differs are what is
kept in focus during treatment. Sessions are usually once or twice per week
and last for 45 minutes. In exclusively biological approaches the sessions
are much shorter.
Levin's Psychotherapy Newsletter
| Chicago Psychoanalytic Society