Treatment of emotional, behavioral, personality, and psychiatric disorders based primarily upon verbal or nonverbal communication and interventions with the patient, in contrast to treatments utilizing chemical and physical measures. See entries under psychoanalysis; psychiatry; psychology; therapy. SYN: psychotherapeutics. [psycho- + G. therapeia, treatment]
- anaclitic p. a psychotherapeutic method characterized by encouragement and utilization of the patient's tendency to depend and lean upon the therapist as an authority figure.
- autonomous p. a type of psychoanalytic p. placing special emphasis on the value of the patient's self-determination in both the therapeutic situation and in real life.
- brief p. any form of p. or counseling designed to produce emotional or behavioral therapeutic change within a minimal amount of time (generally not more than 20 sessions). Brief therapy is usually active and directive; it is more clearly indicated when there are clearly defined symptoms or problems, and where the goals are limited and specific.
- contractual p. p. based on a firm agreement, or “contract,” between therapist and patient as to the role of each in the therapeutic situation.
- directive p. p. utilizing the authority of the therapist to direct the course of the patient's therapy, as contrasted with nondirective p..
- dyadic p. a psychotherapeutic session involving only two persons, the therapist and the patient. Cf.:group p.. SYN: individual therapy.
- dynamic p. SYN: psychoanalytic p..
- existential p. a type of therapy, based on existential philosophy, emphasizing confrontation, primarily spontaneous interaction, and feeling experiences rather than rational thinking, with less attention given to patient resistances; the therapist is involved on the same level and to the same degree as the patient. SYN: existential psychiatry.
- group p. a type of psychologic treatment involving several patients participating together in the presence of one or more psychotherapists who facilitate both emotional and rational cognitive interaction to effect targeted changes in the maladaptive behavior of the individual patient in his or her everyday interpersonal
- heteronomous p. term embracing all forms of p. that foster the patient's dependence on others, especially dependence on the psychotherapist, in contrast to autonomous p..
- hypnotic p. p. based on hypnosis.
- intensive p. p. involving thorough exploration of the patient's life history, conflicts, and related psychodynamics; often contrasted with supportive p..
- marathon group p. a type of group p. characterized by uninterrupted sessions for periods of hours or days, with minimal interruptions for food and rest.
- nondirective p. p. in which the therapist follows the lead of the patient during the interview rather than introducing the therapist's own theories and directing the course of the interview. SEE ALSO: client-centered therapy.
- psychoanalytic p. p. utilizing freudian principles. SEE ALSO: psychoanalysis. SYN: dynamic p..
- reconstructive p. a form of therapy, such as psychoanalysis, that seeks not only to alleviate symptoms but also to produce alterations in maladaptive character structure and to expedite new adaptive potentials; this aim is achieved by bringing into consciousness an awareness of and insight into conflicts, fears, inhibitions, and their manifestations.
- suggestive p. an older term for p. using the influence and authority of the therapist. SEE ALSO: directive p..
- supportive p. p. aiming at bolstering the patient's psychologic defenses and providing reassurance, as in crisis intervention, rather than probing provocatively into the patient's conflicts.
- transactional p. p. with central emphasis on the actual day-to-day interactions (transactions) between the patient and other people in the patient's life.

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psy·cho·ther·a·py .sī-kō-'ther-ə-pē n, pl -pies
1) treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by psychological means esp. involving verbal communication (as in psychoanalysis, nondirective psychotherapy, reeducation, or hypnosis)
2) any alteration in an individual's interpersonal environment, relationships, or life situation brought about esp. by a qualified therapist and intended to have the effect of alleviating symptoms of mental or emotional disturbance

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psychological (as opposed to physical) methods for the treatment of mental disorders and psychological problems. There are many different approaches to psychotherapy, including psychoanalysis, client-centred therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. These approaches share the views that the relationship between therapist and client is of prime importance, that the goal is to help personal development and self-understanding generally rather than only to remove symptoms, and that the therapist does not direct the client's decisions. They have all been very widely applied to differing clinical conditions but are of little or no value as treatments of mental illness. See also behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, counselling.

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psy·cho·ther·a·py (si″ko-therґə-pe) [psycho- + therapy] treatment of mental disorders and behavioral disturbances using verbal and nonverbal communication, including such psychological techniques as support, suggestion, persuasion, reeducation, reassurance, and insight, in order to alter maladaptive patterns of coping, relieve emotional disturbance, and encourage personality growth. It is usually contrasted with therapies involving physical interventions, such as drug or convulsive therapies. See also under therapy.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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