I think that explaining how therapy works is one of the most important questions people have when they consider it as a way of exploring their life’s issues. Knowing that the therapist is competent and has a framework in which he or she conducts sessions makes people trust the process.
I practice present-centered psychodynamic therapy, which is a deep exploration of the psychological forces that impact your thoughts and behaviour in the present situation of a therapy session. An old but good video example of how I conduct therapy can be found here
What this means is that therapy is a safe and structured exploration of yourself. Safety means sessions proceed at a comfortable pace. Structured means that the focus of therapy always remains on exploration of you and your issues. Talking things through in this manner produces results by gently raising your awareness of attitudes, behaviours and emotions that may be previously hidden. When you come to realize what those blocks are and work through them, your ability to implement change and self-improvement becomes easier.
The therapist takes responsibility for and care of structuring the exploration, but in large part the exploration of any topic, such as anxiety, overwhelming grief, anger management, depression or OCD becomes a joint process between you and the therapist. In other words, you are not alone in exploring the issues that brought you into therapy in the first place.
Therapists are trained to share their observations with patients in a manner that fosters growth.
Therapists may focus on repeated patterns, self-defeating behaviours or ways in which a patient side-steps the exploratory nature of therapy. They may also engage in experiments that help a patient realize patterns on their own or try something new directly in the therapy session. These experiments are designed so that the patient can work around their blocks in their own way, thus fostering courage and independence.
The outcomes of therapy can be found here.
For those really interested in finding-out more about how my type of therapy works, I recommend reading Irvin Yalom’s “The Gift Of Therapy”. It is written for anyone to read, and it focuses on the benefits of therapy and how a therapist works with a patient’s presenting issues and symptoms.