What is psychotherapy? Are people just chitchatting with the psychologists?

In common terms, psychotherapy is “talk therapy”. The most common objective of psychotherapy is to alleviate the distress and promoting mental health of an individual client.  Psychotherapy has been evolved throughout the years with some significant advancement in areas such as, evidence-based treatment, integration of different modalities, common factors therapy as well as trauma-informed practice.

There are different approaches in psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral, psychoanalytic, emotion-focused, acceptance-based, mindfulness-based, family-oriented, etc.

Psychotherapy is much more than chitchat.  It is a collaborative relationship between a therapist and a client, in which both parties contribute to the therapeutic outcome.  Different types of strategies will be applied to the client for managing one’s emotions, cognitive distortions, and problematic behavioral patterns.  Sometimes, the therapist also helps the client to gain insights into one’s personality issues and unconsciousness that are related to one’s problematic patterns in life.  As a result, the client can achieve personal growth and also be equipped with more skills in managing one’s life.

What is the uniqueness of Dr. Cindy’s person-based holistic psychotherapy?

With over 20 years of clinical experience and continuous equipping herself with advancement in psychotherapy, Dr. Cindy integrated different evidence-based treatment modalities to cater for the unique needs for an individual client.  As a result, her treatment for client is tailor-made to achieve a person-based holistic psychotherapy orientation.  The first phase of treatment involves clinical interview and the use of multidimensional psychological assessment measures to systematically understand the in-depth issues underlying the client’s initial complaints.  The subsequent phases of person-based holistic psychotherapy involves treating the whole person in various aspects, including mental, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive aspects, with the consideration of one’s personality traits.  This holistic approach is to help the client to achieve therapy goals set collaboratively with Dr. Cindy during the assessment phase.  In this holistic approach, many factors are taken into account, such as underlying personality issues, historical factors, current external environment, and cultural aspects of the individual clients. 

What do clinical psychologists do?

Clinical psychologists are trained in specializing in the assessment and treatment for clients of all ages.  They apply their skills and knowledge in research, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of psychological problems and mental illnesses.  They also offer consultation and training to the general public and professionals on mental health issues.  They also provide psychological support in disasters for the community.

What are the differences between Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists?

 PsychiatristsClinical Psychologists
Professional Qualifications
With a Medical DegreeSpecialist training in psychiatryHold a Masters or Doctorate level qualification in clinical psychology
Areas of focusesFocus on biology and neurochemistry of human beingsFocus on the relationship between emotions, cognitions and behaviors of human beingsAlso focus on neurobiological causes of human emotions, thinking and behaviors
 Prescribe medicationSome provide psychotherapyNot prescribing medicationProviding psychological assessment and treatment

When should I seek help from a psychotherapist?

If the issues in your life cause significant distress and affect your daily functioning in areas, such as work, study or home care, you may need to seek help from a psychotherapist to have an assessment on you for whether you need psychotherapy.

The issues that you may need to concern include marital discord, symptoms of stress, anxiety, depressive mood, addiction, eating problems, interpersonal issues, etc.

Sometimes, you may not be able to be aware of your own problems.  When your significant others notice that you are not alright and suggest you to seek help, please do so for the benefits of your own and your significant others.

Furthermore, psychotherapy is not only for those with serious problems in life.  If you would like to have increase self-awareness of oneself or personal growth, you may also seek help from a psychotherapist.

How to choose a suitable psychotherapist?

It is important to find out the psychotherapist you are intending to seek help from has registration in a recognized professional body.  In Hong Kong, the most established and recognized professional body providing registration for psychologists are the Hong Kong Psychological Society and the Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Psychologists accredited by the Department of Health.  A clinical psychologist Before seeking help, make sure you understand the professional qualifications and memberships of the psychotherapist. 

Will the psychotherapist keep the information I provide as confidential?

The information you share with your psychotherapist is confidential according to the code of ethics of clinical psychologists.  A psychologist should not share information of clients without their consent.  Exceptional cases would be the client mentioned about the intention to harm oneself or other people, or the information of the client is requested by the court.

What can I do to maximize the benefits from psychotherapy?

Trust is a very important component in the therapeutic relationship.  It is important for the client to trust the therapist and collaborate with him or her in assessment and treatment for one’s issues.

Psychotherapy is a medium to long-term process.  It is not the same of visiting a general practitioner for the cure of flu.  The client can collaboratively set goals with the psychotherapist and cooperate with him or her to achieve the treatment goals.

It is important for the client to reflect on what is being covered in the therapy sessions after each session.  If there is any homework or exercises, the client is responsible to make sure he or she can follow through by doing the homework or exercises to maximize the benefits.

It is also important to be aware of your own emotional ups and downs during a therapy session.  Please communicate with your psychotherapist directly for any emotional disturbance you notice during the session.  These emotions could be important information to help you to gain insights into one’s issues.

How to assess the effectiveness of psychotherapy?

To assess the effectiveness of psychotherapy, you may discuss with your psychotherapist for setting measurable therapeutic goals.  The goals could be set basing on the analysis and impression of the psychotherapist after the psychological assessment.  Along the course of the therapy, the therapeutic goals may be modified due to the increase of information being unfolded and increase of insights of the client.

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