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Psychotherapy describes the way specially skilled people called psychotherapists help people who have problems and unhappiness in their lives or who want to improve the quality of their lives and relationships with others.
Psychotherapy means treatment of the mind. It aims to help the person feel better, be braver, happier and more in control of their lives. The main way they do this is by talking to the person who has the problems in a way that they begin to be able to understand themselves better. Some psychotherapists may work with a group of people such as a family who have problems and are unhappy.
Psychotherapists usually complete their training at the doctoral level through doctor of philosophy programs or medical school, although, some are trained at the master's level. Psychotherapists do not use surgery, or give drugs or electric shocks to the people they help. These methods are used by special medical doctors called psychiatrists, who may also sometimes give psychotherapy.
How it started
Psychotherapy was started in the west in 1886 by Sigmund Freud who is called "the father of psychoanalysis," the first modern psychotherapy. Freud was a medical doctor who was trained in Neurology. He became certain that hidden thoughts in the brain (which he called The Unconscious) could cause physical symptoms and strange behavior in some people. He believed that human behavior was not all caused by the brain, but by things that happened to people when they were babies and young children. His research of this theory -the idea he had- led him to create "talking therapy" -psychoanalysis- where he tried to figure out what could cause the mind to do things like this. Freud thought that his figuring things out and telling the patients what had caused the behavior would cure the patient. Unfortunately, it usually made no lasting changes.
This is why modern psychologists (and psychiatrists) have gradually figured out many other ways of helping their patients and modified their techniques through various types of psychotherapy (for example: dynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy).